A review of Take the Monkeys and Run by Karen Cantwell

Reviewed by Jenny Mounfield

Take the Monkeys and Run
by Karen Cantwell
Kindle Edition
File Size: 350 KB, ASIN: B003SE7O40, July 2010

Here is one for all those who like their fiction light, fluffy and just a little bit corny.

‘My name is Barbara Marr. I’m not a lady coroner, bounty hunter or crime scene investigator. I don’t fight vampires, werewolves or flesh-eating zombies destined to destroy humanity. Even worse, I don’t knit, sew, bake gourmet goodies for sweet English ladies or refinish houses then flip them for a profit. In fact, I lack a veritable encyclopedia of talents and accomplishments. I have managed to give birth to three children, but when my teenage daughter looks at me like I’m an alien from the planet Freak, I wonder at my parenting abilities.’

Roused one cold night to the sounds of mischief at the House of Many Boxes across the way in sleepy White Willow Circle, Barb is determined to get to the root of the mystery. The house in question has been vacant for some thirty years, which in Barb’s opinion is odd enough, but now she sees light and hears someone yelling about missing toes. The next morning she discovers monkeys in her trees and is convinced they have something to do with the goings on at the vacant house. Roping in good neighbourhood chums, Peggy and Roz, the trio go snooping. What they, or rather what Barb discovers is a severed human head and another three monkeys, all deceased.

Having passed out in grand style, one would think Barb would take little convincing when it comes to steering clear of the death house. But not so. If nothing else delving deeper into the underbelly of White Willow Circle will serve to keep her mind off hubby Howard and his reasons, or lack thereof, for walking out on her the previous week. So, too, a neighbourhood mystery is fine fodder for her movie-mad mentality, and as a fan of all the best (and not so best) action flicks, she probably couldn’t leave well enough alone even if she wanted to.

Enter Colt: PI and ex-boyfriend—who, of course, still has the hots for Barb. And who, naturally, is every bit as handsome as Barb’s George Clooney lookalike hubby. Some gals do have all the luck. What follows is a lot more madness and mayhem (not to mention another good looking sort for Barb to drool over), which culminates in kidnapping, a mafia cover-up and a marital twist straight from Schwarzemegger’s True Lies.

A semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award content, Take the Monkeys and Run obviously pleased a few readers. While this is no literary masterpiece, it is essentially well-written with engaging, often larger that life characters, and most importantly is laugh out loud funny. Sure Barb’s motivation is questionable, the clichés numerous and the wise-guy dialogue truly annoying after a couple of pages. BUT the world really does need feel good easy-reads like this. In Cantwell’s own words:

‘When I set out to write this book, I knew I wanted to write something that readers would say, “Now that was FUN.” I HOPE I have achieved that goal’

To which I say: Absolutely!

More on this title and Karen Cantwell can be found at: http://karencantwell.com

About the reviewer: Jenny Mounfield is the author of three novels for children and YAs In addition, several of her short stories and articles have appeared both in print and online. She has regularly reviewed children’s books for e-zine Buzz Words since 2006 and is currently working on her first adult novel.