The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

If you are a fan of crime thrillers, chances are you will want to take a look at The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes.

In this story, Lauren Beukes introduces us to Kirby Mazrachi — a woman who survived an attack by serial killer Harper Curtis. The killer, it turns out is a time-travelling drifter who leaves unusual calling cards with his victims. When Kirby gets the opportunity to work with journalist Dan Velasquez she starts to piece together connections between a number of past femicides and suspects that the perpetrator is her attacker. As the book description puts it, this is the story of “the girl who wouldn’t die, hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist …”

While the first few chapters of The Shining Girls are somewhat confusing as Lauren Beukes sets up the cast of characters and the time lines, stay with it and when you get the hang of what she is doing you can then relax and immerse yourself in her story telling.

I liked the short chapters and Lauren Beukes is adept at closing each chapter with a hint or an insight that makes you rush on to the next in a way that reminded me of Gone Girl, one of my favourite reads of 2012. Kirby Mazrachi is a likeable character. Harper is despicable but also trapped in a continuous loop where his victims are sometimes alive, sometimes dead depending on his time zone. Interestingly, the victims are given enough detail to show their lives before the killing as well as the impact afterwards. Of the secondary characters, Dan is the most important and, oddly, is perhaps the least well realised.

The Kindle edition of The Shining Girls has a very interesting author insight at the back in which Beukes suggests that the depiction of her cast of women characters can be seen as a comment on how society impacted women at various periods across the twentieth century.

If you like  crime thrillers and are not put off by the time travel aspect (which is actually what drew me to The Shining Girls), then this could be a good choice for your ‘to be read’ (TBR) list. All in all, I found The Shining Girls an enjoyable and entertaining read.

 The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes is published by Harper Collins. ISBN 9780007464562; eBook edition 9780007464630

 

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn hit the headlines with Gone Girl, one of the most talked about novels last year. Her first novel, Sharp Objects is a darker and more disturbing read. A psychological thriller, it’s about what happens when a journalist is sent to investigate the murder of two young girls in her home town.

The journalist protagonist in Camille Preaker. She is a hard-drinking young woman with a history of self harm. She spent time in an institution early in her life. Camille has words carved into her flesh — “vanish” on her neck, “nasty” on her kneecap, “wicked” on her hip.

Camille works for the Daily Post in Chicago. When a young girl, Natalie Keene, is murdered, Camille is dispatched to investigate the story.

Links to an earlier case

She quickly realises that the case is linked to an earlier murder. And it seems that both cases connect to Camille herself. Like Natalie, the earlier victim Ann Nash, a preteen girl knew Camille’s mother.

Camille moves back into her family home but this is a very dysfunctional family. Camille’s mother, Adora, and 13-year old sister, Amma, are both disturbed and terrifying.

As Camille’s investigation continues, the evidence becomes increasingly disturbing threatening Camille both physically and psychologically.

Sharp Objects is a fast and compelling read — perhaps not as polished as Gone Girl, but worth a look.

I purchased the Kindle version on www.amazon.com. ASIN: B002U3CCF6

See also: Gone Girl

Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason | Bodies in the Back Yard

Three Graves Full is an inventive and well-written thriller with plenty of surprising twists, some humor and a good dash of horror. There is almost a Gothic element as the drama unfolds while bodies are excavated from Jason Getty’s garden.

There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard.”

Three Graves Full grabs the reader from the first sentence,

Mason’s characters are well drawn. The plot is good and for the most part the pace and drama of the story holds the reader’s interest.

Be warned that it gets a little gory now and then. And the writing style makes is easy to imagine the scenes being depicted.

Interestingly, Mason also explores  ideas such as  “the liar’s margin” — that space where memories are stored that is delineated not by what happened, or how or where it happened — but by why. It is interesting ideas like this that, for me, make Mason one to watch out for in the future.

Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason is published by Gallery Books. ISBN9781451685039 Price US$24.99 (hardback). (Disclosure: a free review copy was made available via Netgalley.com)