This is number three in the series about Katy Green, a clever violin and saxophone musician who takes on the dangerous events that confront her in every book. Here she rejoins an all girl swing band who have landed a promising gig performing on the Matson Steamship Companys flagship, the SS Lurline, traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii, and back. In this era, female bands were much sought after as male performers increasingly were drafted into the armed services. Katys group, all unmarried and needing to find work, are a post Depression free spirited, even racy bunch determined to live life to the fullest.
On board the ship, there is mounting realization that the U.S. is on the verge of war, not only with Germany but possibly with Japan. The racism of some of the passengers against their Japanese-Hawaiian shipmates emerges as does the pro-Japan viewpoint of one of the characters. The fears of the full blooded Hawaiians about the possible Japanese destruction of their endangered heritage offer yet another perspective.
The story ends with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The ship will now become a war transport vehicle. And the girls careers, like those of many women, must change as well.
The storys historical details are vast. Discussed are the streets of San Francisco, popular music and how it was played, the layout and daily passenger life of the SS Lurline, and events in Hawaiian history, including the 1890s when Queen Liliuokalani attempted to retain power and the haole annexationists succeeded in taking it away. The fullness of these accounts compensates for some literary weaknesses: the crime doesnt appear until half way through the book, the ending is improbable, and the authors confusing claim in the Forward of using the work of a ghost writer named Hannah Dobryn is denied in his Afterword when he says that in fact he created her!
Information about the actual events, characters and the sources is provided in a lengthy Afterward. Glatzers clever and fun website has period photos, postcards, advertisements, and more information on womens work. www.lastfullmeasure.info