'What are your best and worst qualities?'
This is the title of the essay Addison Schacht has to write to gain a place at his chosen university. Straightaway, Addison sees an opportunity to tell his story-so-far: to unburden himself, so to speak.
And boy is there a lot to unburden.
His 'business' - dealing pot to his peers - is booming, and requires a certain extra effort. His relationship with Digger, his best friend (NOT girlfriend), is getting 'complicated', as they say. His classmate Kevin was murdered point blank, and now Addison can't stop thinking about who killed him, and why? And then there's the small question of the rest of his life . . .
Over the course of his unorthodox application, Addison confess his triumphs, tragedies, strengths, weaknesses, blessings and curses to his academic jury.
The November Criminals is the darkest, most raucous and unconventional love story/murder mystery/ coming-of-age crossover you will read this year.
Munson's funny, stoner-friendly debut follows high school senior Addison Schacht as he stumbles through the Washington, D.C., teenage underworld to investigate a classmate's unsolved murder. Schacht a small-time pot dealer, consummate anti-social, and Jewish collector of Holocaust jokes makes for a poor but entertaining detective, and when he places a stoned phone call to his prime suspect, Addison and his friends become caught up in the mystery he set out to solve. As Addison's sleuthing begins to unravel and his life crumbles along with it, his ramblings offer an interesting counter to, and often context for, his misguided attempt to discover the truth. Munson keeps things lightly dark, though his weakness for wandering asides Addison is just as likely to riff on the Aeneid, Latin syntax, or his favorite movies as he is to discuss his investigation and efforts to outsmart the police trips up the pace, even if they are what one would expect from a self-absorbed adolescent. The plotting could use some work, but Munson nails the voice.