Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Published: September 2014
Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies, but this one is unique even by Detroit’s standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams? If you’re Detective Versado’s geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you’re desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you’re Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you’ll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe–and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world.
If Lauren Beukes’s internationally bestselling The Shining Girls was a time-jumping thrill ride through the past, her Broken Monsters is a genre-redefining thriller about broken cities, broken dreams, and broken people trying to put themselves back together again.
Similar to Beuke’s first novel, The Shining Girls, this story also follows multiple characters: young girls, a journalist, a police officer and a serial killer. Broken Monsters is set in the urban environment of Detroit and the world Beukes creates is so vivid at times it is hard to remember that it is in fact, fiction.
As a homicide detective, Gabriella Versado has witnessed the unthinkable. The darkest thoughts of humanity turned into horrific actions. Policing in inner city Detroit is every officers nightmare, every shift resembles heading to the front lines of battle.
A victim of a gruesome homicide is found, and officers and the community are stunned. A young boy is fused together with the body of a deer. Making this find one of the most grotesque and disturbing of Versado’s career. The crime has the workings of a satanic ritual, a cult—the possibilities are endless but the answers are nowhere to be found.
While Mama Versado is working the crime, her daughter Layla is stirring up trouble and trying to take the law into her own hands. Alongside her bestfriend, the teen girls engage in flirtations with online predators. Layla believes she can contribute to the takedown of these online monsters. Layla is a strong-spirited young woman and as a reader you can’t help but love her. She has great intentions, but her actions aren’t well thought out, resulting in being trapped in a very dangerous situation.
Whenever there is a gruesome crime, there are the leeches that try to break into their five-minutes of fame by ‘helping’ solve the case. Disgraced journalist Jonno, acts as though he is part of the investigation team, trying to solve the crime to bring light and honour back to his name.
The most interesting perspective of all: the mind of the killer, Thomas Keen. Often authors don’t do a grand reveal until the end, however in Broken Monsters, the readers were invited into his mind from very early on. Keen has a disturbing image, one where he sees himself as helping society and repairing the broken by creating outrageous and disturbing art.
This novel is unlike any other I have read. The constant shift in perspective kept my interests piqued. It was gruesome and horrific at times, but it needed to be in order for the story to be so effective.
A must read for horror and thriller fans alike.