Thursday, October 18, 2018

Swell Time for a Swing Dance - My Review

December 31, 1941. Young Houston socialite Tracy Truworth, Apprentice P.I., can’t imagine a better way to send off the old year and ring in the new than by dancing through the night with her fella, Pete Stalwart. But a swell evening soon takes a terrible turn when a fellow dancer with moves like Fred Astaire ends up dead on the dance floor. And before the hands on the clock can point to midnight, a finger is pointed at Pete, accusing him of murdering the young man.  Then after Pete is hauled away in handcuffs, the night goes from bad to worse . . . and Tracy’s sweet grandmother is accused of stealing an ancient artifact from the museum. 

Now Tracy must team up with her boss and mentor, Sammy Falcone, in order to find the stolen statuette, unmask the real murderer, and restore the reputations of those she loves the most.  Yet as America becomes embroiled in another world war, the risks and sacrifices intensify—even on the homefront. And Tracy soon finds her own home invaded by a near parade of questionable characters, while unsavory suspects lurk in the shadows, and a ruthless reporter makes her life miserable. With time ticking against her, Tracy must be willing to swing past the setbacks and hop through the hazards if she hopes to solve a mystery that involves a lot of dancing . . . and a lot more danger. 

CINDY VINCENT, M.A. Ed., was born in Calgary, Alberta, and has lived all around the US and Canada. She is the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls. She is also the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Caper novels and the Daisy Diamond Detective series. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines.  

I am so excited to be a part of another book tour for Cindy Vincent!  This is another great story by her, and it is the second book in the Tracy Truworth Mysteries.  Everyone knows I love a good mystery, so of course, this series is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  Please check out my review for the first book A Bad Day for a Bombshell on my blog, and since it will soon be the Christmas season, check out my review for The Case of the Crafty Christmas Crooks.  If you are interested, Cindy’s book is also listed on My Top Ten Books of 2016. 

This story introduces the reader to a few familiar characters including Tray Truworth and her boss Samual Falcone.  I love the setting of this book—the 1940’s—and all the references to the music and films of that time.  World War II is happening overseas and many of the young American boys are enlisting and getting ready to fight for the country.  In the midst of this though, another murder occurs, and it is up to Tracy and Sammy to uncover all the clues. 

Tracy takes special note of what she sees occurring around her, and she may have already unearthed an important clue.  However, will it be enough to rescue the one she loves?  Immediately, gossip begins to turn to fact, so Tracy finds that she must work extra quick and extra hard, if she hopes to find the truth behind a very confusing death.  And even though she seems to be searching in the right direction, another mystery takes place under her watch, which leads to another loved one’s life in the balance. 

Sammy is smart, and he relies heavily upon Tracy’s expertise and intuition.  He knows she can interview those whom he might find difficult to question.  In fact, he has already gained so much insight right from the start of the case because of her ability to jump in where she is needed.  He loves a certain someone, and he does not want to see her involved in any of the mysteries that seem to be running rampant at the moment.  How can he find the culprit when so many police do not want his help?  Will they let him in on any of the clues or findings regarding these current cases?   

I highly recommend checking out any book by Cindy Vincent.  You will not be disappointed!  Her stories are unique and special in regards to the characters she writes about.  Please let me know when you get a chance to read one of her books in the comments below.  As always, happy reading! 

This review is my honest opinion. Thank you to the author for my copy. 

1. Why did you decide to turn Tracy Truworth's adventures into a series?  Although, I am glad you did. 

To tell you the truth, I originally only planned to write one mystery novel set in World War Two.  But after I completed the first Tracy Truworth book, Bad Day for a Bombshell, (and after I put the poor girl through so much turmoil during that first episode!), I realized that Tracy’s story wasn’t finished.  Not by a long shot!  Not only did I have tons of historical material for a full series, but the characters had truly come to life for me, and I knew one book wouldn’t be enough.  Especially when the second book in the series was already running through my head when I typed the words “The End” on the first book.  And then, after I finished writing this second book, Swell Time for a Swing Dance, book number three was already making an appearance in my mind’s eye.  The working title for this next installment will be Good Night for a Girl Friday, and I am looking forward to writing it!  

2.  When writing a mystery, do you already know who will be the victim and the assailant?  Or does the plot continually change?

Yes, when I write a mystery, I always know the victim and the murderer in advance, and I don’t deviate from that.  But first I start with a theme, and since dancing as a social event was so popular during the forties, I wanted to use that for Swell Time for a Swing Dance.  Once I have the theme established, I come up with a victim and the list of suspects as well as their motivations.  One will stand out over the others for having a more interesting and unusual motivation, so that’s whom I’ll go with for my murderer.  After that, I figure out the crime and the timeline and all the clues.  I write all this out on the four white boards in the hallway just outside my office, and I continually refer back to them.  Once all that’s in stone, the victim and the murderer never change.

To write a good mystery, the author plays sort of a hide-and-seek game with the reader.  Clues and motivations for each character are doled out little by little, with plenty of red herrings to muddy the waters.  But since the real clues are always disguised and usually seem to be meaningless, a reader who is truly trying to solve the crime must be on their toes.  Mystery readers tend to like a challenge, so it’s important not to write a mystery that is too simple.  In the end, all the pieces of the puzzle must add up, and last-minute clues are considered to be a no-no.  That means mysteries must be very tightly plotted.  So I typically have these pretty well mapped out before I start writing.  And for me, that is one of the truly fun aspects about writing mysteries—plotting everything out in advance and putting all the pieces together before I start writing!

3. When did you first decide to become a writer?  Who or what was your inspiration?

I started writing the minute I could write!  Early in grade school.  Not only did I write sock-puppet shows, but I also started my first “novel” in the fourth grade, about cats on Jupiter, no less.  Needless to say, that book didn’t really amount to much . . . Ha!  And I’m sure it didn’t exactly have a plotline.  But a year later, in the fifth grade, I ended up with a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Hiele, who picked up on the fact that I loved to write.  She pulled me aside one day and informed me, very matter-of-factly, that if I’d like to write some plays, she would allow my friends and me to perform these plays in front of the class.  As an added bonus, the rest of the class would get out of doing schoolwork for a little while, whenever one of these plays was going on. 

Wow, how could a kid pass up a deal like that?  Naturally, I wrote as many plays as I could.  Not only was I egged on by my classmates, but I could hardly believe that someone was actually encouraging me to write!  To be honest, at the time I thought my teacher was a bit of a pushover, to offer me such a sweet deal, one that certainly didn’t seem like work at all!  It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized what a brilliant and dedicated teacher she was.  I was so blessed by her.  I wish I could go back in time and thank her for all that she did for me!

4. I love old movies (Love the Fred Astaire reference!), so of course, I love the setting of the Truworth mysteries.  Why did you decide to write in the backdrop of the 1940's? 

Oh, yes, you can’t help but love Fred Astaire, right?  I would love to have even half the dancing talent that he had!  But to answer your question, I became interested in the 1940s about twenty-five years ago, when I started writing murder mystery dinner party games.  (I had a company for 20 years where I wrote, published, marketed and sold my own line of mystery party games that were shipped internationally, something that was a pretty big deal back then!)  At the time, I already liked Big Band music, so I decided to set my first game in the 1940s.  Of course, this led to research about the era, and once I’d finished writing the game—Boogie Woogie Bungle Up, or Who Bopped the Bea B. Opp?—my husband and I hosted a party to try it out.  Naturally, we decided to dress the part, and I ran down to the local vintage clothing shop and bought some authentic 1940s clothing and accessories.  From that moment on, I was absolutely hooked on the Forties!  I used that era as a backdrop in many of my mystery party games, and knew that I would one day write mystery novels set in that time as well.  So here I am, writing this Tracy Truworth series.  It’s definitely a dream come true!

5. Who are some of your favorite authors? 

At the top of my list is Dorothy Cannell and her Ellie Haskell series.  Next comes “anything Agatha Christie.”  Her mysteries have such fantastic plot twists, and she was so good at literary sleight-of-hand.  But I’d also have to list Tamar Myers, with her Den of Antiquity Mysteries.  Though to be honest, I enjoy reading the works of lots and lots of authors. 

6. Do you have any advice for new writers in regards to writing a book? 

Be true to yourself and your values, and write what you feel called to write.  Meaning, listen to that “still, small voice” inside of you, and proceed from there.  When I was young, people told me the best way to break into the industry was to write a romance novel.  The only problem was, I wasn’t a romance reader.  Instead, I’ve always loved mysteries.  So when I wrote a romance novel and it was picked up by an agent, editors spotted me as a non-romance reader from a mile away.  They knew it wasn’t my genre and they were right.  Lesson learned! 

The other advice I’d give is to practice, practice, practice!  The more you write, the better a writer you’ll become.  Make sure you write a little every day, or at least, most days!

Dear Diary, It’s Me, Tracy Truworth, and the Year is 1942

Cindy Vincent

Dear Diary,

January 1 — To think . . . I’d so been looking forward to a swell time at the New Year’s Eve gala with my fella.  I wore my new teal-green ball gown, and with Pete in his tailored tuxedo, I must admit, we looked pretty smart.  The dancing was great, especially when everyone started to swing.  That’s when a guy named Freddy went out and showed us his moves, though I have to say, he was moving awfully fast, and his poor partners just couldn’t keep up!  Especially me, when he grabbed my hand and dragged me away from Pete, and then started dancing with me.  If you could call it that!  I wouldn’t.  Not with the way he was tossing me around the dance floor like a rag doll.  He refused to let go—no matter how many times I hollered for him to stop!  And the next thing I knew, Freddy was dead on the dance floor and Pete was being hauled off to the police station!

January 2 — Even though Pete isn’t being held by the police, that doesn’t mean he’s in the clear.  Especially since some reporter, P.J. Montgomery, insists on printing lies about Pete and me.  She’s got us labeled as a regular Bonnie and Clyde, all so she can make a name for herself and sell more papers.  Poor Pete may even lose his job over this mess, and he may not be able to enlist like he’d planned.  Plenty of fellas our age are going off to fight in this war, and Pete doesn’t want to stay behind and have everyone think he’s a cad and a coward.  My brother plans to sign up for the service, too, just as soon as he finishes law school, and my own father even tried to enlist.  He was too old to be considered, but thankfully he ended up with another important war job instead.

Though my father may want to stick around a little more, since Nana was more or less accused of stealing the missing marble statue from the museum.  One that was about 2,000 years old!  Then there was the break-in at our mansion.  Nothing was found missing and no one was found hiding on our property.  That was another mystery in itself.  Of course, it doesn’t help that we’ve now got a couple of “unusual” houseguests—there’s Eulalie the artist and Lupé the maid, one who seems better at eavesdropping than housecleaning . . . Though I must admit, I am truly enjoying the company of Eulalie’s huge cat, Opaline.

January 3 — I still can’t believe how much our world has changed.  Before the war started, I had my life mapped out.  I would get married, raise children and probably be on some of the same charity boards that my grandmother had been on.  But shortly after I turned twenty-one, things took a darker turn.  We started to see images of the war in newsreels and newspapers and magazines.  So many of those things were so terrifying.  One of the worst was an article in Life Magazine on concentration camps in Germany in 1939.  Hitler may have fooled a lot of people for a while, especially with that huge show he put on when he hosted the 1936 Olympics.  But he couldn’t keep it up.  Especially now that he’s taken over Europe.

Of course, Uncle Sam officially entered the war right after the Imperial Japanese Navy hit our country hard, by bombing us at Pearl Harbor, in the Territory of Hawaii.  It was a day I’ll never forget.  My family spent most of it sitting around the radio, just listening for any bits of information that we could get.  The newspapers even had a special edition out by that afternoon.  None of us knew it was coming.  Though we shouldn’t have been too surprised, with the way that the Japanese had been taking over so much of Asia, raping and murdering as they went.

Now, not only do I have this crazy war to worry about, but I’m also wondering what will happen to Pete and me.  After all, we only started seriously dating a few weeks ago, and now, well, with this war going on, we just don’t know if we’ll have a tomorrow.  If he goes off to fight, the only contact we’ll have with each other is through letters. 

Of course, my boss and I will have to solve this case first.  And I have to say, it’s really got my head spinning!  Just when I think we’ve got a chance at figuring things out, well, something else comes along . . . Though being an Apprentice P.I. is a dream come true, especially since I’ve been reading Katie McClue novels all my life.  I never thought I’d get the chance to do something like this.  But here I am!

January 4 — Here’s a question . . . If you love a fella, and he loves you back, should you wait to get married, hoping he makes it home some day from this awful war?  Or do you hurry up and get married, so if the worst should happen, at least you know you’ve declared your love and commitment?  Then again, lots of girls could end up widows that way.   Life has suddenly become so complicated!

Much like this case is proving to be.  Especially after another murder!  I only hope we all survive, since danger has officially landed on our doorstep.  And the war has become a lot closer than we’d ever dreamed . . .

Time to get “in the mood” with a fun 1940s-themed giveaway! Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a pewter ornament from The National WWII Museum, a Glenn Miller CD, and paperback copies of the first two books in the Tracy Truworth series: Bad Day for a Bombshell and Swell Time for a Swing Dance. Due to shipping costs and varying international laws, this giveaway is open to US residents (age 18 or older) only. Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 15 

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  1. I love the 40's and really love the 50's. Life was so simple back then. (

  2. Heather,

    Thanks again for being part of our book tour. It's always such a joy to cross paths with you once more! I'm praying that all is well with you and with your own writing! And I look forward to being in touch another time. God bless you always!

    1. Thanks Cindy! And thank you for the words of encouragement! It's always lovely to take part in one of your books tours--congratulations on your new book!