By Angie Johnson-Schmit

Debut novelist Tim Maleeny has taken the classic private investigator story and twisted it hard in STEALING THE DRAGON. Pulling together threads from hard-boiled detective and international thriller traditions, Maleeny’s narrative focuses on San Francisco based P.I. Cape Weathers and his enigmatic partner, martial arts expert Sally. Maleeny takes his readers on a journey across time and countries, weaving together clues from Cape’s activities in San Francisco and Sally’s recollections of growing up in Hong Kong.

Maleeny blames his upbringing for his love of crime fiction, noting that he grew up reading pulp fiction of the 1930’s. In addition to Rohmer’s Fu Manchu novels and Lester Dent’s Doc Savage books, Maleeny credits his parents for passing along a love of books and reading. Although he admits to writing short stories as a teenager, Maleeny did what any self-respecting guy does when he hits college – he switched his focus to girls. He insists that he continued to read voraciously through graduate school and the start of his career in advertising, but fiction writing went on the back burner.

What began as an opening paragraph written during a business trip has since developed into an idea for an ongoing series. STEALING THE DRAGON is the first novel of the Cape Weathers books. When his wife became pregnant with their daughter and started going to bed early, Maleeny took the opportunity to stay up late and write.

The adventure begins when a container ship carrying Chinese refugees crashes onto Alcatraz Island. When the entire crew is discovered murdered, Cape isn’t the only one who thinks that Sally might be responsible for the deaths. Unfortunately, Sally is missing. Cape delves into Chinatown in search of his friend, finding himself moving deeper into unfamiliar and increasingly hostile territory. Throw in a stolen Triad artifact, crooked local politicians, FBI scrutiny and organized crime groups, and things start to heat up fast.

With a story line that runs from Asia to San Francisco, Maleeny relied on his study of Asian philosophy and religion and travel to Hong Kong to supplement his research for STEALING THE DRAGON. While recognizing the need for additional research, Maleeny developed a rhythm of writing as much as he knew and then checking facts as needed. This method allowed him to maintain accuracy without losing momentum. Maleeny used his personal experiences and research to avoid stereotypical representations of Chinese culture in San Francisco.

The protagonists of STEALING THE DRAGON also manage to side step the clichés of genre fiction. A trained assassin named Sally? You bet. Not only is she given a name that suggests “pigtails rather than death,” but Sally’s character is much more rounded than is typical of a fictional badass. Yes, she is haunted by her past, but Sally is not solely defined by the tragedies and hardships of her childhood. Best of all, Sally has a decent sense of humor to go along with her ass-kicking abilities.

Maleeny didn’t skimp with his secondary characters, either. He does an excellent job of sketching in just enough quirks and details to make these characters real and memorable. Perhaps most memorable is Cape’s newspaper contact, Linda Katz. Other than her myriad phobias (electromagnetic radiation, anyone?), Linda’s hair stands out – literally and figuratively – as the defining feature of her character. Maleeny uses her hair as “that voice that we all have inside our heads that never gets spoken aloud.”

Want more? The second book in the Cape Weathers series has already been completed and is scheduled for release in October of 2007. BEATING THE BABUSHKA takes Cape and Sally on a new adventure centered on the Russian mafiya and its role in the movie business.

STEALING THE DRAGON is now available. For more information about his writing and appearances, visit Tim Maleeny’s website at


Angie Johnson-Schmit currently lives in Arizona with her husband, two dogs and a turtle. A voice actress for Coyote Radio Theater, she spends too much time practicing silly voices.

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