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Reviews for The bandit queens : a novel

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Bonds of sisterhood are forged through murders. When Geeta’s husband, Ramesh, disappeared from their Indian village five years ago, he left her saddled with debt and the lingering rumor that she murdered him. Geeta simultaneously resents her dubious reputation, wields it to scare local children into compliance, and uses it to make up for her loneliness: “She wasn’t respected here, but she was feared, and fear had been very kind to Geeta.'' Then Farah—a member of the microloan club Geeta belongs to along with fellow female entrepreneurs—has a proposal. Would Geeta help her remove her proverbial nose ring by murdering her abusive husband? While hesitant at first, Geeta ultimately agrees. But, of course, this murder does not go smoothly. From there follow a series of betrayals, the uncovering of an underground alcohol trade, and more murder proposals. Some of Shroff’s attempts to insert serious discussions of abuse, misogyny, and class throughout the novel feel awkward, and the story could have used some editing (perhaps one less murder?). Still, if you can lean into the melodramatic slapstick nature of it all—villainous characters who pause midvillainy to explain that their nicknames are works in progress; characters who pause mid–hostage situation to wish each other a Happy New Year—the novel will reward you with occasional witty one-liners, tender moments of deep female friendship, and salient truths: “Because we’re middle-aged housewives. Who’s more invisible than us? We can get away with murder. Literally.” Readers will appreciate—if not quite be riveted by—this tale of the strength of women in impossible situations. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.