Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Jump by Tim Maleeny

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Jump by Tim Maleeny. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Jump by Tim Maleeny


Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-574-7 (1590585747)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-574-0 (9781590585740)
Publication Date: June 2009
List Price: $24.95

Review: A hated landlord takes a leap from the top of his 20-story building -- aided or unaided to be determined -- in Jump, a most enjoyable summer thriller by Tim Maleeny.

Retired cop Sam McGowan lives on the 20th floor and is the first person his old partner Danny Rodriguez turns to when he arrives to investigate. Danny would just as soon label it a suicide and call it a day. But he feels obligated to look into the case and arm-twists Sam into making some unofficial inquiries, talk to the neighbors, that sort of thing. Sam quickly finds out everyone on his floor had a reason to hate the landlord. Between tales of blackmail, extortion, and attempted rape, there are no shortage of suspects who would like to have seen the man dead. But in a strange twist of fate, Sam becomes a target himself of a Mexican drug lord and he must balance finding out the truth about his landlord's unfortunate demise and keeping one step ahead of an assassin.

There are several remarkable aspects to Jump, from an extraordinary cast of characters to Maleeny's rapid-fire narrative style to a deftly plotted story that has a familiar ring to it yet feels uncommonly new.

Sam's neighbors (read suspects) are an eclectic bunch to be sure: a little old lady with a tongue as sharp as her mind; an aging movie producer who hasn't had a hit in, well, never; two brothers who make and deliver sandwiches with a side of weed to corporate offices around the city; two female roommates who operate a soft-core porn site from their bedroom to pay for their graduate education; and a mysterious woman who's a graphic designer by day, jazz singer by night. And, of course, Sam himself who's torn between his ingrained duty as a cop (albeit an ex-cop) and how to act as a private citizen. And though everyone seems to be doing something, if not outright illegal then acting in a grayish area of the law, these are truly engaging characters that readers care about.

The plot moves along briskly, switching between character points of view frequently but always in a fluid manner. It's clever and funny, at times even poignant. The ending is both anticipated and unexpected, and puts a refreshing twist on a conventional theme.

Though Jump is listed as a stand-alone thriller, it would be a shame not to bring Sam (and maybe some of his neighbors) back for another go round. It is one of the most entertaining mysteries to be published this year, and is a perfect reading companion this summer.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of Jump for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

Buy from Amazon.com

If you are interested in purchasing Jump from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): When the most hated landlord in San Francisco takes an unexpected jump off the roof of his own building, it isn’t too hard to find suspects. But the police want to call it a suicide, since both the Mayor and press are complaining about the dismal closure rate for homicide investigations. Call it a suicide and no one has to solve the case.

But ex-cop Sam McGowan knows it was murder. He also knows that anyone living on the top floor of the building should be a suspect, including himself. So Sam decides to get to know his neighbors:

A lonely jazz singer more than willing to confess to any crime, past or present;

Two young women paying for graduate school by operating a website that reveals a lot more than their SAT scores;

The B-movie producer with a swollen prostate and shrinking bank balance;

And the brothers at the end of the hall, who just quit their day jobs to sell marijuana for the Mexican mob.

The only thing they have in common is a general agree-ment that their dead landlord got what he deserved--and that one of them is probably responsible. As more bodies surface and alliances shift, Sam finds himself jumping back and forth between his old life as a cop and his new one as a murder suspect, unable to decide where he really belongs.

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