Title: Broken Monsters
Author: Lauren Beukes
Published by: HarperCollins
Publication date: 31 July 2014
Source: Bury Library
In the city that’s become a symbol for the death of the American dream, a nightmare killer is unravelling reality. The new thriller from Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls.
Detective Gabi Versado has hunted down many monsters during her eight years in Homicide. She’s seen stupidity, corruption and just plain badness. But she’s never seen anything like this.
Clayton Broom is a failed artist, and a broken man. Life destroyed his plans, so he’s found new dreams – of flesh and bone made disturbingly, beautifully real.
Detroit is the decaying corpse of the American Dream. Motor-city. Murder-city. And home to a killer opening doors into the dark heart of humanity.
A killer who wants to make you whole again…
This is the first book that I have checked out of the library and been able to finish without having to renew it two or three times, which in itself should speak volumes. Normally I get part way through a book before I have to head to the council website and have to renew it so I don’t get a 20 pence fine for a late return. So to be able to finish a book in such a short space of time is almost unheard of.
The plot of the book itself is pretty standard to most Thrillers. A detective on a case, chasing down some sicko bad-guy; in this case an artist with a very warped sense of vision. There are also the standard plot elements of the thriller genre as well, and if you’ve read enough you’ll already know what they are. Detective makes a blunder, gets booted off the case but manages to redeem themselves and solve the mystery anyway. Although how that happens exactly I won’t spoil. The detective in this example is Gabi Versado, a strong and believable female lead riddled with trying to solve her own family problems, in the form of her daughter Layla, as well as the problems of the city of Detroit.
Speaking of Layla, she is a teenage girl going through the traumas of teenage life at school and I was actually as interested in her sub-plot as I was the main case and the two blended to one another rather well, even if they were a little far fetched at times. One way they combined was through the use of social media and various popular culture which might go over the top of some older readers heads, which may or may not add to the success of understanding the teenage Layla or alienating her. Personally, I understood most of the internet-y references, but that’s mostly because I have lived a lot of my life online. Ask people over a certain age what Nyancat is and they might be left scratching their heads in confusion.
Other characters involve a struggling blogger and his hip and happening DJ Girlfriend, a homeless black guy and the rookie cop. All well written characters to the point I felt some frustration and irritation whenever one of them opened their mouths! It’s been said that to write a character that’s likeable is easy, to write one that irritates is more difficult. So, once again kudos are due to Lauren Beukes for achieving that sentiment.
Sadly, it can’t all be praise, praise, praise. There is one element to the book that just left me feeling somewhat flat. That was the supernatural element that, although is touched upon in earlier chapters, comes to a peak about 85% through the book. I like a story to have a good plot, likable characters and a strong, conclusive ending. And that ending sadly didn’t feel like it was on offer here. Instead of a bringing the narrative to a climatic conclusion I was left with a bit of a ‘Wait, what?’ feeling, which unfortunately just left me confused and a bit dazed – especially after the tension that had been expertly building up to this point. It makes the genre of the book seem to be as confused as I was. Was this a thriller as I had been led to believe? For the most part, yes. Then the ending happened and it turned from what I thought I was reading to something else. It was unfortunate, because for me, it ruined a perfectly good book.