Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes book review


Following my attendance at the Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate this year, I bought this book off the back of seeing Lauren at the South of the Equator event.  I admit that with an innovative premise of a time-travelling serial killer, I was already sold before the book arrived.  Happily, I was not disappointed when I started reading. 

Lauren’s third person narrative and several disparate POVs must have been quite a challenge to keep up to whilst writing the novel – not to mention the time-travel aspect – but it never falters and pulls you in immediately.  The violence when it comes to the killer, is stomach churning and not for the faint-hearted (and/or dog lovers for that matter) yet I enjoyed the duality of both the killer and the victims obsession with the crime.

Although the main POVs Lauren uses are those of the killer, Harper Curtis and one of his victims, Kirby the only one to have survived, we are also treated to the POVs and lives of several of the other victims which really help the reader to identify with them and to care about them before they are ultimately dispatched.

As mentioned in my previous post following the South of the Equator event, Lauren also wanted the book to be a book of our time, not just in terms of the history and I think she achieved her aim.  There are several aspects in the plot and characters that point to the power and achievements of women, despite a society which would seek to keep them down.  Also there are hints to the advances in technology that may or may not enhance our lives in this modern society.

The book is also set in several time periods as Harper is from 1950s Depression era Chicago and the plot goes backwards and forwards through to the 1990s.  The main sticking point for me is the believability of a time-travelling house, but once you suspend belief, this is an engrossing read.

A time-travelling serial killer – what’s not to like?                              9/10

#LaurenBeukes                 #TheShiningGirls

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