I just finished Matt Ruff’s Bad Monkeys, which, as anyone familiar with his work might expect, is thought provokingly funny. The main character, Jane Charlotte (and,yes, as fans of Ruff also know, he’s never met a literary allusion he doesn’t like) is in a detention center, has evidently killed someone, and also seems crazy. A psychiatrist seems to be trying to determine the underlying cause of her psychosis, which forms the novel’s narrative in which Jane recounts her fantastic adventures in a secret organization dedicated to the elimination of murderers, child molesters and other purely evil people. Of course, we’ve been down this road before — is she crazy or is there really some sort of alternate universe where good does triumph over evil. All through the book you’re trying to figure out how Ruff is going to turn the tables and come up with an ending that is something more than an average Twilight Zone denouement. And he manages to pull it off.
Fun stuff, though his previous book, Set This House in Order, is his best and the one I’d recommend first if you haven’t read him before. His other two novels are Sewer, Gas & Electric and the cult-classic Fool on the Hill, which was one of the first reviews I did for Black Gate publisher John O’Neil when he was helping to start the whole on-line reviewing thing at SF Site.