Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mini book review: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

There is a monster loose in Detroit, a serial killer making twisted body art out of his victims; the first one found is little eleven year old Daveyton, cut in half with his torso fused to the hindquarters of a deer.  Detective Gabriella Versado running the case for the DPD homicide division, but none of them has ever seen anything like this.  Jonno Haim is a down-and-out journalist, recently arrived in Detroit, nursing a broken heart and trying desperately to reclaim his career by exploiting Detroit's ruin and rebuilding.  He finds his way into the underground Detroit art scene and, just by virtue of being in the right place at the time, starts following the serial killer story, ignoring traditional media and going straight to the internet for his audience.  Also enmeshed online: Layla Stirling-Versado, the detective's teen-aged daughter who, along with her best friend, has started up the hobby of trolling for and outing online predators.  And then there's TK, homeless and an advocate for the homeless, trying to make better lives for Detroit's destitute and displaced.

These four points of view race through Lauren Beukes's psycho-thriller Broken Monsters, at first circling around each other before finally becoming thoroughly intertwined.  For my part, I was thoroughly entertained, fascinated by the description of modern Detroit and caught up in the crime story.  Things fall apart slightly at the end of the novel, when the killer's psychosis bleeds into the other characters' reality; I don't mind supernatural elements in novels (see: almost everything I ever read) but up until then the supernatural stuff was only in the crazy person's head - having it manifest in the "real world" of the book was confusing.  That's a small quibble, however, because Broken Monsters is a fast-paced, entertaining and disturbing read, good enough that I'm going to look for Beukes's first novel, The Shining Girls, a time-travelling serial killer.

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