By Lauren Beukes
Available now from Mulholland (Little, Brown)
Read my review of The Shining Girls
This cover (reminiscent of Chuck Palahniuk's INVISIBLE MONSTERS) doesn't do justice to the strange cornucopia of imagery within. There is a killer stalking Detroit, and he's leaving behind mutilated bodies. Bodies that he sees as art.
BROKEN MONSTERS switches between a number of point of views including Detective Versado, who is hunting the killer; Layla, her daughter; Jonno, a videoblogger looking for his big break; TK, a homeless man who works at a church; and Clayton Broom, a homeless artist looking for a break. At first their lives seem completely separate, but they intertwine as the case goes on. It's a technique I always enjoy, seeing the pieces come together.
It took me a touch longer to get into BROKEN MONSTERS than Lauren Beukes' other novels. It's quite grotesque, and many of the characters aren't that likeable. They're well rounded, but they're selfish and self deluding and the kind of human that is sometimes hard to spend time with. But I was drawn into the case, which just keeps getting stranger, until a surreally frightening climax.
One particularly fun twist of the procedural (beyond the supernatural elements) was the use of the internet. There are small passages of subreddits, police-line phone calls, and other ephemera of modern life. (Some of it reads a little off, but most is pretty accurate.) The population's reactions to a bizarre serial killer seemed quite authentic, scared and unhelpful and sometimes unjustly ignored.
I recommend BROKEN MONSTERS to fans of Stephen King. Lauren Beukes is continuing to expand her genre-bending prowess, and BROKEN MONSTERS takes on many elements of horror. The how isn't always answered, which just makes it scarier.