It was probably the penguin (Tim Maleeny is at Murder By the Book tonight)
Last year I went through one of my favorite fiction reading phases of all time: hard boiled detective stories. I visited the old school masters like Hammett and Cain and asked around for contemporary recommendations. One of the books that came my way via a young man who chatted me up on an airplane was Tim Maleeny's Stealing the Dragon, which Lee Childs blurbed as "the perfect thriller debut." I liked it enough to check out a couple of his short stories, including "Death Do Us Part", the title story he wrote for an anthology edited by Harlan Coben.
Tonight, Maleeny is at Murder By the Book in Houston, signing his latest, Jump. PW says, "We're firmly on darkly comic terra Hiaasen. Fast-paced and funny, this is a perfectly blended cocktail of escapism, with or without the beach towel."
Chapter One, which you can read on Maleeny's website, begins:
The scream tore through the building like a pregnant nun on her way to confession. It bounced off the walls, rattled the windows, and woke up everyone in the neighborhood.
Ed Lowry plummeted a hundred feet before he made any noise. The fire escape on the 20th floor was two hundred feet off the ground, so accelerating at thirty-two miles per second squared, he was falling at nearly forty miles an hour and covered half the distance to the ground before he grasped the real gravity of his situation and started screaming.
It was probably the sight of the penguin that jolted him back to reality and knocked some air back into his lungs.
Okay. I'm intrigued.