Fuzzy Business 3: End Game, by Amelia Ritner – Book Review by Fred Patten.
by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Fuzzy Business 3: End Game, by Amelia Ritner
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, November 2015, trade paperback $7.99 (173 pages), Kindle $1.99.
You would think that any book in a series subtitled “End Game” would be the final volume, wouldn’t you? Well, maybe you’d be right and maybe not.
In Fuzzy Business (May 2013) and Fuzzy Business 2: Fuzz Harder (December 2013), the young humanimal cat-girl Miara Cooper (she has cat ears, whiskers, a tail, and light fur) in San Francisco in the last half of the 21st Century finds herself the target of PAGE, a brutal anti-humanimal hate group who intend to make her a fatal example of what they do to anyone not 100% human. She is defended by the mysterious hunky coyote-man biker John, who starts out by kidnaping her, and the equally-handsome human Connor who, when she asks for help, comes running with “[…] An AR-15, a scoped hunting rifle with a wooden stock, a pump action shotgun, two .38 revolvers, a Glock identical to the one that John had pointed earlier, a laser-equipped Glock 26 that John snickered at when he saw, ten varying boxes of ammunition, a stun gun, a .22 semiautomatic rifle with an obscenely huge magazine of bullets attached to it […]” (Fuzzy Business, p. 113) and a lot more. She also has the help, whether she wants it or not, of pro-humanimal activists who insist on recruiting her into their groups. And PETA.
As I said in my review of the first two books, “If Fuzzy Business were dunked in any more feminine pheromones, it would read like a furry paranormal romance.” That doesn’t mean that there is no serious danger. Fuzzy Business 2: Fuzz Harder ends with John shot at close range and left for dead.
Fuzzy Business 3: End Game begins with Miara and lots of people including the police gathered around John’s hospital bed. He’s recovering, and it looks like they now have all the support and police protection that they need. The local and state governments are demonstrating their support of what the activists call Animal-Americans, the 100% human bigots are laying low, and the equally-murderous humanimal extremists who have declared any humanimals who believe in equality with humans to be traitors (one of them, Fox, shot John) are on the run. But there are still dangers, as are shown by another attempt on John’s life in the hospital.
Ritner tells two intermixed stories; Miara’s own, trying to get John to accept a witness protection program and trying to find a new job following the events in Fuzz Harder, and that of the humanimals in general society. While there is an active pure-human minority, many people are almost too much in favor of the humanimals. Mothers want their babies to be cute cat-, dog-, raccoon-, lion-, or tiger-human hybrids despite the sky-high costs. Even beaver and moose humanimals. The government’s attempt to rigidly control the humanimal process is failing:
“The evidence of the existence of an underground market for Genetic Manipulation is overwhelming. There is no possible way that, even with multiple assisting surgeons and technicians, Dr. Finchley’s facility could produce as many manipulated individuals as we are seeing in the current generation.” (pgs. 47-48)
Since the legitimate medical process of manipulating a human embryo into a human-animal hybrid is extremely difficult and expensive, numerous cheaper though still expensive facilities of dubious legality are assumed by the public to have sprung up. Unlicensed and underground laboratories risk killing the mother or child, or having the embryo turn out to be a malformed freak.
“I took another sip of my tea, and thanked my lucky stars that my parents had already lived in California, and had caught the inaugural wave of Dr. Finchley’s treatment before he rose to great fame and fortune. I was sure there were thousands of women just like my mother, dying to augment their babies the same way I had been, who simply couldn’t go through with it now because of how much that rich bastard charged for his services.” (p. 50)
Miara had been studying for a P.I.’s license while working as a mall cop in Book 2. She now decides to track down Fox and the Mammal Mafia extremists by herself, especially since there is evidence that Fox is stalking her.
All of this is intermixed with Miara’s running commentary about her love life. She has not decided yet between the coyote-man or the human, and with John disappearing temporarily into the authorities’ witness relocation program, she concentrates on Connor.
“We had our differences, sure, but the sex was amazing.” (p. 60)
That’s Miara and Connor in the parking lot of a dance hall in Solapi’s cover painting. Fox, their nemesis, is in the car. Page 123.
Another murder provides Miara with the clue that leads her, Connor, and the police to the killers, after a lot of exciting risk-taking. Well, maybe not entirely exciting:
“‘Can you slow down a bit?’ I asked, readjusting my butt in my seat. Sitting on my tail was always uncomfortable, but Connor’s reckless driving was shifting my body back and forth over it. ‘You’re making me queasy.’
‘We’re being followed,’ Connor said simply.
‘Do you have any guns in here?’
He glanced at me with a lifted eyebrow. I let out a breath of air, hard, to calm myself. This was Connor. Of course he had weapons in his car. But would they be enough to stop Fox?” (pgs. 134-135)
Miara and Connor decide not to miss this opportunity to take down Fox personally, with the police screaming over Miara’s cell phone to let them handle it.
“My left hand touched something with angular plastic edges, and my fingers grasped it so I could pull it out. Was it a cheap knife? A throwing star, perhaps?
I opened my hand and looked at the thing inside. It was a Batman PEZ dispenser.” (pgs. 146-147)
What does Miara do with a Batman PEZ dispenser against a gun? Read Fuzzy Business 3: End Game to find out.
I won’t say how this ends, but it seems to conclude the series definitely. On the other hand, there are a few loose threads that could lead to more sequels. Ritner says in a note in my review copy that this is deliberate. “I left the book open ended enough that I may pick up the series again one day.”
But for now, Fuzzy Business is complete in three books; cheap as trade paperbacks and even cheaper on Kindle. If you’re not familiar with the first two yet, start with Book 1.