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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

Helicopters and Heists: A Review of Hanging the Devil by Tim Maleeny

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.

Bears waving.
Hi, how's it going today?

Wow, I feel like I just saw all of you. Seems like only yesterday I spoke with y’all. I also must admit, I miss Spooky Season. Wow, no one in the history of the world saw this coming. No one would have guessed that I, the woman who demanded people call her the Pumpkin Spice Queen, would miss Spooky Season.

Spooky Season gif.
Me? Missing Spooky Season? Shocking.

To make up for Spooky Season being over, I have a very special review for you all today. Today’s review is brought to you by Sourcebooks. They aren’t paying me for my review, they just sent me the book for free. Thank you so much to Sourcebooks for sending me a copy of today’s book. It means a lot to me that someone out there wants to send me books. Thank you so much!

And what am I reviewing today? Well, please welcome to the stage: Hanging the Devil by Tim Maleeny!

Book cover of Hanging the Devil by Tim Maleeny.

Hanging the Devil is the fifth installment of the Cape Weathers Mystery series and is scheduled to release November 14, 2023.

Now let’s get to the synopsis. As always, a spoiler alert is in order. This is your one and only warning. Long time readers know I love to spoil a lot about the books I read. I also have one quick content warning for you today. There is a scene involving a medical lab and some questionable science experiments using monkeys. It’s a very brief scene but I don’t like the implications and it made my skin crawl. Definitely some animal abuse going on. Just be on the lookout for that, and now, let’s get to the synopsis.

Eleven-year-old Grace is studying some art in San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum late at night while her uncle works the graveyard shift. Things are pretty normal. Grace is enjoying the art, her uncle is doing his job, it is business as usual until a helicopter crashes into the museum. Out of the wreckage comes two men and a ghost who are there to rob the joint. Graces sees these men and runs.

She flees into the night and finds herself hiding the back alleys of San Francisco’s Chinatown where Sally Mei, Chinatown’s self-appointed guardian and literal assassin, finds the young girl. Upon hearing Grace’s tale, Sally takes Grace to this series’ hero Cape Weathers. Private Eye Cape Weathers begins looking into the crash and robbery of the Asian Art Museum while Sally begins teaching Grace fighting and survival skills because she knows this “ghost” is going to come back for Grace.

Boo Ghost.

As Cape investigates the case, he learns just how messy this heist is about to get. Involved in this theft are multiple mob groups from all around the world, the Chinese government, very talented forgery artists, assassins, and double/triples agents just to name a few players in the game. All of who are vying for some ancient, priceless art and wanting to unalive the child that saw the crime. Really, all this for just a few priceless paintings? Will Cape put the baddies in their place? Will Grace be okay? Will the priceless art survive or be lost forever?

I love heist books. Can’t get enough of them. Although, the heist isn’t the main focus of this novel. Honestly, I was a little disappointed when I discovered this, but Hanging the Devil is a fast paced read with a main character, Grace, that I cared about so it made up for the lack of focus on the heist. This book focuses a lot more on the characters. So if you like character focused books with some thriller elements you’ll enjoy this read.

Although I must say the characters aren’t the greatest. Some of them feel like stereotypes while others have no personality. For example, Sally is the unforgiving assassin with a dark, tragic backstory. There’s Maria, a Spanish Interpol agent whose characterization is pretty close to being the Spicy Latina trope. This issue isn’t exclusive to female characters. Male characters don’t have it good either. Beau is the detective assigned to the case, but he just plays the role of the Good Cop who doesn’t do much, instead letting Cape do most of the work.

Paris Hilton ew face.
Some of the characterizations are not good.

Hanging the Devil is very character driven. While I don’t think anyone has any amazing character arc or deals with past trauma or even learns any big life lessons, everyone making sure Grace is kept safe and sound drives the novel forward. So I stand by my statement of this book being character driven.

I do have to admit, I’ve never read any of the other Cape Weathers Mysteries so I know I’m missing out on a decent bit of these characters’ personalities and backstories. While all these characters seem pretty bland in this edition of the series, they could still be going through some major changes that I simply don’t see. Again, Hanging the Devil is still a character driven story.

Now onto my biggest issue with this book. Every chapter begins and end the exact same way. Let me give you an example.

“I haven’t decided yet,” said Yan. “Now, let’s go to dinner.”

“Before we go to dinner,” said Cape. “I want to give you something.”

When every chapter begins, it references the last line of the chapter before it. It is the most annoying thing ever. And yes, I know I’m being hypocritical as I too do the same thing from time to time. But I don’t do it between every paragraph. The one time this didn’t happened I literally cheered. Readers of Tim Maleeny, does this occur in every novel of his? Is this a common thing? If so, I highly recommend it be stopped. It’s okay every once in a while, but not every chapter.

Jonah Hill shaking head no.
This behavior needs to be stopped.

Please don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy Hanging the Devil. It’s a very fast-paced read, which I really wanted when I first sat down to begin reading it, with an interesting story. The story delves into colonialism and how eastern art came to sit in museums all around the world. While this part of the story is fairly surface level, it’s still an interesting topic.

If you want a fast-paced read, this is a good option. The storyline is interesting, the author makes you care about the child’s safety, and you can read the whole thing in roughly two days. I don’t find this novel to be groundbreaking, but it was enjoyable enough.

With that, I must bid you all adieu. Thank you for joining me this week, and thank you once again to Sourcebooks for sending me a copy of Hanging the Devil. It means a lot to me that you want to send me books. Thank you again!

Next week I have something fun in store for all of you. Something that you all really love.

Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.

Bears waving.
See y'all then, bye!

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