The Shining Girls

Lauren Beukes
The Shining Girls Cover

The Shining Girls

Graham Vingoe

I've marked this down slightly because whilst this is an excellently written novel, it doesn't really fully work as a fantastic novel. Lauren Beukes's novel depicts the premise of a serial killer compelled by a mysterious room to hunt down a series of women across a 60 period of history (1930s-1993) including Kirby the lead character.

There is an afterword from Lauren Beukes at the end in which she thanks a large number of people for their help with research in many areas- Police procedures, baseball, early 1990's punk music and more. I think this afterword points the way to the reasons why I feel the book doesn't quite gel. It may be the case that Beukes went too far overboard in incorporating the research material at the expense of what made the initial premise so appealing- This is a book about a serial killer who moves through time for Gods sake- Imagine Jeffrey Dahmer being able to choose who he killed at random from any point in history- That should scare the bejeebers out of anyone but the killer in this book, Harper Curtis seems to be a stereotypical killer- apart from the time travel aspect, there is not really anything about him as a character that really stands out. Similarly , Dan, the ex Crime reporter and male heroic lead comes across as something of a cliche.

Somewhere in the writing of the Shining Girls, the need to keep the time-travel plot in and outs working logically seems to have become the overriding feature of the book and the characterisation fell down a bit.

I so wanted to read this and give it a 5 star review but unfortunately I was hoping for something which would seamlessly meld time travel with serial killers and be seen as a genre-changing classic, instead we've ended up with a book which I'm sure will do well in the mainstream thriller market but at the end of the day could work without the time travel gimmick and be seen to work as well. I will certainly read further work by Lauren Beukes because there is a great talent on display in places within this book but some of the visceral heart the book needed has been lost along the way.