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