The November Criminals by Sam Munson

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The November Criminals by Sam Munson

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A teen drug dealer investigates the murder of his classmate. Witty, clever and wordy, The November Criminals captures the adolescent voice perfectly.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: November 2015
Publisher: Atom
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0349002398

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Addison Schacht is a high school senior (that's sixth form if you're British) in Washington DC and a bit of a classics nerd. His favourite book is Virgil's Aeineid - he owns three copies and reads from one of them every single day. He has applied to the University of Chicago, where he wants to study classics.

So far, so model pupil, right?

The thing is, Addison is also a consistent truant and runs his own business - selling drugs to his peers. Hmm!

The November Criminals is written as Addison's submission for an essay assignment - What are your best and worst qualities? - and, as you can see, there is plenty of opportunity for compare and contrast. But Addison doesn't think so. He sets out to explain that he has only bad qualities and goes on to give plenty of examples, including, but not limited to, all that drug dealing stuff. But Addison gets side-tracked. His classmate - not friend - Kevin Broadus is murdered in a pointless shooting while at work in a diner. And Addison feels a compulsion to investigate his death.

Oh, oh, oh. OH! The November Criminals is funny. I started laughing as I read page one and I was still laughing on the very last page. Perhaps that's a bit tasteless, since we are looking into the death of a promising life cut short, but that's the genius of this story. Even Addison doesn't know why he cares so much - or if he actually cares at all - he just knows he has to get to the bottom of it.

The whole thing captures the adolescent voice perfectly. Addison wanders about, being disaffected, ridiculously self-aware, rude, self-centred and generally as obnoxious as privileged teenagers can be. It's all very Holden Caulfield but it's not just that: the murder storyline is based on real events.

It's wordy and witty and clever. And as up itself as Addison is up himself. You might think that sounds like a criticism but it's not; it's a compliment. I'll say it again. The November Criminals made me laugh. Lots. And that makes it all right by me.

Teacher's Dead by Benjamin Zephaniah is a very different story in which the lead character investigates a death. Submarine by Joe Dunthorne isn't about dead people, but is similarly funny.

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Buy The November Criminals by Sam Munson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The November Criminals by Sam Munson at


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