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February 21, 2018

Review: Junkyard Leopard by Oliver Brackenbury

by MK French

The Figure is a woman dressed head to toe in leopard print Lycra, even over her face, with a white fur coat. She targets corporate bankers and lawyers with hammers, crowbars or acid, carving a bloody swath through Wall Street.
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Junkyard Leopard
June 2018; Bad Day Books; 978-1628279894
print (314 pages); satire
Chapters zip quickly past, though we certainly get flashes of personality for all of the characters, even the bankers before their grisly ends. Mary's story is a rather bleak and dreary one in comparison at first, and she is painfully shy and awkward while trying to begin a romance with Ahmed. It seems to brighten up a bit when Mary takes a little more initiative, though their conversations sometimes veer into tangents that heighten Mary's anxiety. Some of that anxiety is innate, some is the defense mechanism keeping The Figure separate from Mary's main identity. As that part of the story progresses, we also track James, a potential copycat of The Figure. At the same time, we see the lone survivor of one of The Figure's first attacks slowly ease back into the same financial and moral morass he had been in before.

Various threads of the story start to intersect as the separation between Mary and The Figure break down. In the final chapters of the book, there is even an exact mirror to the opening. From the start, with the dedication to HSBC for being "very inspiring," it was clear that Oliver's writing style is tongue in cheek and sarcastic. Mary's actions as The Figure are not treated as if she is a hero by any means, but seem to serve as a vehicle for Oliver to comment on the financial world as well as publishing and the 24-hour news media cycles. I'm not sure I really find any of the characters sympathetic, for all the story sucked me in. Perhaps that's also part of his point; young adults have few outlets, little hope, and even fewer options than ever before if not rich. It's not a sustainable system, and will continue to devour those that try to perpetuate it.

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Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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