Click here to return to the main site.

Book Review

Book Cover

Broken Monsters (Hardback)


Author: Lauren Beukes
Publisher: Harper Collins
RRP: £14.99
ISBN: 978 0 00746 459 3
Publication Date: 01 August 2014

Detroit is a city of over five million people. Once home of America’s auto industry and Motown, the city has seen its wealth and jobs disappear ending in bankruptcy. Urban decay and crime are on the increase, but even for Detective Gabi Versado the discovery of a murdered child, his top half fused to that of a small deer is too horrific. In the bones of the motor city, a new type of killer is stalking, whose victims are meant to be less of a statement than an artistic work...

Broken Monsters (2014. 520 Pages) is the new novel by Lauren Beukes, whose previous novel The Shining Girls was well received by both critics and readers.

The overall structure of the book introduces a number of initially disparate characters which seem disconnected, but, of course, we know that their paths will cross later on in the story. In this way Beukes offers her readers a number of point of view perspectives from which to witness the unfurling horror. I say horror because this book is likely to give you the willies. As a reader I got so invested in the story that a sense of dread sets in as the characters orbits move closer to that of the killer.

The serial killer, whom Versado and her department are hunting, is not just your ordinary psycho. On one level it could even be said that he is not really responsible at all, but rather he is a man taken over by a dream. The question is, is he the one doing the dreaming or is the dream something which has taken him from the inside out?

One of the real strengths of the story, and Beukes writing, is the small, personal ephemera which Beukes adds. Through these peeks into the characters private lives lets the reader feel like they know the character and empathise with their possible fate. Beukes also peppers the story with YouTube remarks and text messages to further enhance the sense of reality, the feeling that this is really happening before your eyes.

The spider’s web which Beukes spins starts out very loose, we meet Versado, separated and trying to bring up her headstrong daughter, we meet the people she works with. Jonno, fleeing from a broken relationship to a broken city is trying to find a story which will elevate him above being just an unsuccessful writer. A chance meeting with a female DJ and his move to creating a YouTube video blog, leads him to be in the right place and time when the killing starts. Other than the main characters the book has a number of friends and lessor roles, all of which seem to be at risk when Beukes starts to pull the web taut, bringing the characters to an explosive conclusion.

The story is not confined to one genre, mixing elements of police procedure with horror and social commentary, to create a more than satisfying whole. If you liked The Shining Girls, you’re going to love the new book, although you may never again turn out the lights when night falls.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.

Kindle edition
iTunes GB
Digital Download