It’s not that I actively seek out books with women in the lead but sometimes I end up reading a lot of them anway.
MS. TREE: One Mean Mother by Max Collins and Terry Beatty is both the first in a new series of reprint books and a collection of the very end of the series (there’s one story left after the end of this volume) as Ms. Tree Quarterly from DC.
Michael Tree was the secretary, then the wife of PI Mike Tree; when the Muerta crime family killed him, she stepped up and took over the agency. In the opening story, current family leader Dominique Muerta sends the man who killed Mike after Ms. Tree, who kills him easily. It turns out that was Dominique’s intention — their kids have fallen in love so she hopes helping Ms. Tree avenge her husband will wipe the slate clean.
Despite Dominique getting murdered in the same chapter, the arc does wrap up Ms. Tree’s story. However this happens by a painfully trite ploy. Michael meets her high school crush, he asks for her help, they fall in love, she xtops his psycho ex from killing him — and it turns out he set the whole thing up to get his ex out of the way. He winds up dead anyway, then Michael discovers she’s pregnant. In the subsequent installments she steps back into a management role at her agency, makes peace with “Don Donny,” Dominique’s heir, and finds being a Mommy is just soooo fulfilling.
The story with the high school crush is below the Collins/Beatty standard: I knew where it was going as soon as the husband showed up. And the idea of Ms. Tree just fitting so naturally into motherhood, without any regrets or qualms? That’s a stereotype. It helps that the baby is apparently an angel that doesn’t cost her sleep, stress or energy to take care of, even when she first takes him home. Ms. Tree is still an awesome, tough character but …
Maris Wick’s and Jim Ottaviani’s PRIMATES: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Biruté Galdikass (whom I hadn’t heard of before, but is Goodall’s orang-utan studying counterpart) looks at how the three woman were all inspired or nudged along their path by legendary anthropologist Richard Leakey and slowly mastered their respective craft. Decent biography — except the creators admit in the end-notes they’ve fudged some of the details and don’t specify which ones. That’s annoying.
COUNT CROWLEY: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter by David Dastmalchian and Lukas Ketner is set in 1983, as TV reporter Jerri Bartman’s alcoholism trashes her last shot at keeping her career. Fortunately her brother is station manager so he gives her an easy way to earn a paycheck, stepping on for the vanished actor who plays Count Crowley, the station’s horror movie host (I’m not sure any of this type of host were still around by 1983, except for tongue-in-cheek ones like Elvira). Trouble is, monsters are real and Count Crowley is known as one of the hunters …. Fun enough I look forward to V2.
RED SONJA: Queen of Plagues by Gail Simone and Walter Geovanni has the Hyborian swashbuckler a help out the only king she’s ever been impressed with when an invading army threatens him; however his nation is overflowing with plague and a former BFF of Sonja’s is leading the invaders. A good story and I like some of the changes from Marvel Comics’ version (it’s a new publisher) such as stripping out the rape in her backstory.
#SFWApro. All rights to Terry Beatty cover remain with current holders.