by Lauren Beukes
Hardcover, 288 pages
Fear State: High (4.5/5)
It's not very often I come across a novel I wish I'd written myself or at the very least thought of the basic concept. I live for a complex, onion-layered character serial murder who innovates a new method of killing. The kind of psychopath that would dare to fuse human remains with that of animal remains is a flat out genius. This person is provocative, a forward thinker, a gat-damn artist! Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's double back a bit.
I found Lauren Beukes' Broken Monsters when Stephen King himself tweeted the story gave him the heebie jeebies. Or something to that effect. I mean anything that can scare THE MAN is right up my alley. I'll also admit here I judge books by the cover. Sorry. I love covers that look more like art than anything you would come across day to day. Basic models posing on the book cover make me deep sigh. Graphic design affords us the ability to do better. So, I appreciate when authors do better. Lauren Beukes' team nailed it! I saw the cover here (one of many for this book) and quickly downloaded the novel for my greedy Kindle.
We're introduced to Detective Gabriella Versado whose ultimately driving the investigation to find a murder (*whispers "Artist") for the duration of the book. I identified most with this character being a career-driven single mother to a think tank teenager. Layla, the brain, is wonderfully precocious and she possesses a similar dry humor to my daughter. Their bond drew me in deeper. I usually root for the villain. Usually. But, this mother/daughter relationship helped tug me back to my own reality. I'm much more of a hands on mother, however, at times I can get so absorbed into my work Gabriella made me see myself. I believe readers should walk away feeling different or at the very least be able to relate to the struggle of the characters. Here, I definitely felt Versado's parenting pain at times. Layla replaces her mother's absence with a desire to emulate her. She creates an investigation of her own with her best friend creating another layer of conflict.
Now, I can go back on my genius killer rant. Beukes has a gem here. The novel begins with the police locating the remains of a young boy that had been fused with the hind legs of a deer. The manner in which the creature that desires the kill is written beautifully. It becomes it's own vehicle driving the blood lust and thirst for it's art form to be taken seriously. I'm not easily afraid given that I've read many horror novels since I was a teenager. Nothing much gets to me. I will admit this novel's journey to the climatic end was intense. The meat of the plot stuck to my bones and my appetite was sated when I finished. Fear levels were high. Read it. You'll like it. I promise.