Laura Mazucca Toops
Twilight Times Books, Feb 2007
In 1926, in spite of being out of the way in a remote rural part of Indiana, the hottest jazz spot in the Midwest is the Blue Lantern Club on Hudson Lake. Especially popular amongst aficionados is the Jean Goldkette Orchestra featuring highly regarded Bix Beiderbecke on the coronet.
Bix has come to isolated Indiana to avoid life as he failed at love, family, and now alcohol. Women love the great coronetist, but they accept that in Bix’s mind jazz comes before them; locals and those from Chicago and Indianapolis accept that is part of Bix; his Iowa family never did. Of course I.U. student Harriet understood what a fling with a musician meant until Bix; Joy, a flapper who hangs out with gangsters, also has interest in Bix. However, women and jazz may mix, but the big city mob wants bootlegged alcohol and jazz to mix too; whereas the Ku Klux Klan plans to own the conservative area, which means no big city jazz. Bix has no time for either violent group as his two women have become possessive.
This superb biographical fiction tale brings to life the Jazz Age in the Midwest as the audience gets an in close look at the band, obviously Bix, and their personal issues re doubts about skills and family. The invasions by the KKK and the Chicago mob add depth to the 1920s in Indiana. However, this is Beiderbecke’s tale in every sense as his struggles to be loved and accepted are fraught with self tormenting doubt and self destruction when he could not cope with accolades even as he begged people to praise his work. HUDSON LAKE is a strong historical tale in which the reader gains a vivid glimpse of a bygone Americana era through the travails of Bix and the band.