Review

Jump

by Tim Maleeny

JUMP moves author Tim Maleeny in a new and intriguing direction.
Already critically acclaimed for his popular Cape Weathers
series, Maleeny’s first stand-alone work is a bit grittier
and sexier, combining classic whodunit elements with crime caper
attitudes to create a book that is part Leonard, part Westlake, and
all Maleeny.

JUMP is firmly set in Maleeny’s San Francisco, with the
action almost equally divided between the uneasy streets of the
Mission District and the edge of downtown. It is in the latter area
that a death occurs --- the untimely but welcome demise of Ed
Lowry, one of the city’s most despised landlords.
Lowry’s departure from this side of the veil is occasioned by
his 20-story fall from the top floor of his apartment building. If
he jumped, it’s a suicide; if he was pushed, it’s a
murder.

Sam McGowan, a newly retired San Francisco police detective, is
one of Lowry’s top floor tenants, who is still going through
the motions of life some two years after losing his wife Marie to
cancer. Danny Rodriguez, McGowan’s former partner, is
assigned to investigate Lowry’s death and enlists
McGowan’s reluctant assistance to interview potential
suspects --- McGowan’s neighbors on the 20th floor --- to see
if anyone had a motive for sending Lowry plummeting to his
death.

McGowan discovers early on that just about all of them,
including himself, had experienced a run-in of one sort or another
with the unpopular Lowry. He also finds that they are a mixed and
interesting bag of characters: a feisty seasoned citizen and her
fitness-obsessed beau; a brother team of entrepreneurs who are
selling more than sandwiches through their food service business; a
low-budget movie producer; two young ladies with an extremely
interesting website; and, most significantly for McGowan, a jazz
chanteuse who gently entices him back to the land of the
living.

McGowan’s investigation soon dovetails with one of his
former cases, which involved a San Francisco drug kingpin whose
tentacles reach into McGowan’s apartment building. The two
have an old score to settle, and before JUMP reaches its climax,
alliances will shift, secrets will be revealed, and McGowan,
retirement notwithstanding, will determine whether Lowry’s
death was an accident, suicide, or murder.

Maleeny has always peppered his stories with a mix of quirky
characters, but he takes this practice to new heights with JUMP. He
strikes a perfect balance between the odd and the believable,
keeping the weirdness factor under control while making each and
every character, from the apartment security guard to a pair of
ill-fated, hapless hit men, memorable and interesting. One of my
favorite elements, however, is stylistic in nature. Maleeny ties
the end of one chapter to the beginning of the next, even as he
jumps scenes, if you will, in the cinematic sense. This takes a
great deal of work, but his level of tradecraft is such that he
makes it look easy.

From beginning to end, JUMP goes down smoother than an Irish
coffee at the Buena Vista while providing the same kick, and then
some. Don’t miss this one.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

Jump
by Tim Maleeny

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
  • ISBN-10: 1590585747
  • ISBN-13: 9781590585740