Monday, 23 June 2014
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Harper is a serial killer with a difference - he's discovered the key to never being caught; the key to a house which enables him to travel through time to commit his atrocious acts and slip away into the past to avoid discovery.
But just once he makes a mistake.... Kirby has survived one of his horrific attacks but feels that there must be women out there who weren't as lucky - and for them as well as herself she wants the attacker brought to justice.
I'd heard a lot of praise being heaped on this book, seen it nominated for awards, praised by other crime writers etc, so when I spotted it at the library I decided it was time to read it. It's certainly an original take for a crime thriller - how can anyone track down a man who can effectively disappear at will? - and raises lots of side-questions particularly about free will, and cause and effect; would Harper have become such a monster without the house? was he lured into committing these murders because of the 'memorabilia' he found in the house or would he have acted this way regardless?
Even without getting into such muddy waters, it's a compelling read, one which gives as much thought to the victims as to the perpetrator. All of Harper's 'shining girls' have special qualities, something that makes them stand out from the crowd, which makes their deaths seem even more tragic.
As with any good time travelling novel, there's a satisfying tying off of loose ends, a joining-up of the little random-seeming events to make a closed loop. In a way though this took away some of the tension from the novel - Harper himself notices that there are a finite numbers of victims featured among the house's 'memorabilia', so the reader knows that sooner or later he'll be caught - though the 'how' remains a mystery.
Maryom's review - 4.5
Publisher - Harper Collins (Harper)
Genre - Adult crime thriller