Too Dead To Swing

Written by Hal Glatzer
Review by Steve Lewis

This may be unique. Here’s a mystery novel based on an audioplay, which I haven’t heard, but as a fan of Old-Time Radio, I’d love to. More than a detective story, this should appeal to fans of the big bands of the pre-war 1940s as well, as murder stalks the all-female Ultra Belles as they wind up a tour of California by train.

Telling the story is violinist Katy Green, who doubles as both saxophonist and sleuth, as the occasion arises. Women didn’t get much respect as musicians in those days, nor jobs, except as singers, or in bands that were all-girl only. Glatzer knows the music of the period, and re-creates to perfection the comraderie and the pent-up frustrations of life of the road — not to mention the magic of moments when everything falls together on the bandstand, making it all worthwhile.

The mystery itself is enjoyable but not to be taken too seriously. One cannot imagine the tour continuing ever onward to the next engagement, if members keep falling by the wayside as they do here. But if the somewhat worldly but still charming Katy Green is ever involved in another case, or her first brush with solving a crime is told, I’ll be among the first in line to read it.