Friday, February 06, 2009

BOOKS: Review- Beating the Babushka

Tim Maleeny has a nice little detective series going. It purportedly stars Cape Weathers, an ex-journalist turned detective. But the first book in the series featured Cape as more of a supporting player to the real star of the series, his partner, Sally the lesbian ninja assassin. Come on, don't I have you right there?

I'm not kidding. Two books into the series (Stealing the Dragon being the first), we've seen Sally on each cover. Cape. Not a sight.

But things ARE a bit different in Beating the Babushka, the second book in the series. First, Sally doesn't show up until page 172. Not that I was counting or anything. That's because Maleeny actually got me interested in Weathers and I was more than willing to wait for the 'five-foot nothing' Sally to show up and save the day, as she did in Stealing the Dragon.

Weathers, fresh off tangling with the triads in the first book, takes on the Russian mafiya in this book. Sure, there's some sideline involvement by the triad and the Italian mafia, who are having a bit of a turf war brought on by the meddling of the mafiya. But this is basically Weathers versus a mafiya mid-level thug, an ex-KGB nasty. In the end, Weathers elicits Sally's help, and that of a little old man on Brighton Beach, to bring the nasty to justice ... in an approved Russian way. Makes for a grizzly end to an entertaining tale.

One interesting note here, is that I've been reading more than my share of San Francisco-based detective stories. At least one location, a restaurant, plays as a key locale in both this book and in Mr. Monk in Outer Space, the comedic novel by Lee Goldberg, based on the Monk TV series. Makes for an interesting back to back experience!

Maleeny's going to have a long career. He's got at least one memorable character going, maybe two, as I grow to like, and be interested in, Weathers. I really am looking forward to the next novel, Greasing the Pinata, where Weathers and Sally take on the Mexican drug cartel.

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