So many of my reviews of books that were “meh” or worse conclude with “back to the goodwill from whence you came” or “into the resale pile.” This book was the result of those resale piles being turned into cold hard cash (hahaha of course not, I’m too cheap and the bookstore gives a premium if you take your sale back as store credit, and let’s be real, my dumb ass would just buy more books with it anyway).
Total impulse buy, but I’m a sucker for a) high concept books, and b) unreliable narrators. Here we find Jane Charlotte being interrogated for murder, which she attributes to being a member of the “Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons,” taking out the worst of society (the “bad monkeys” of the title) with a natural causes gun that gives people strokes or heart attacks. How much of her tale is metaphorical versus the ramblings of a crazy woman versus an exact recitation of events is the central mystery.
This book manages to be propulsive and fun and the best kind of weird. We have time-slowing drugs and duplicates and evil clowns and secret government societies and heart attack guns, but Ruff makes it work and keeps it tied enough to the narrative that nothing feels extraneous or sensational – it’s a book that makes a secret society of assassins of killers seem as plausible as the idea that our protagonist is off her gourd.
In fact, the lack of fat on the book is its one detraction – it’s so fast paced that the conclusion feels a bit rushed, and the payoff isn’t as sweet for being wrapped up as quickly as it is. That said, this is a quick, fun, deeply weird (without being strange for the sake of strangeness) book that will not in fact be going back to the used bookstore from whence it came.