BOOK REVIEW: BROKEN MONSTERS / AUTHOR: LAUREN BEUKES / PUBLISHER: HARPERCOLLINS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Gabi has been on the Detroit City police force for years, but just when she thinks she's seen and been hardened to it all, a new killer comes along to appal both her and the rest of the city. The first body that's found is of a young boy cut in half at the torso, whose legs have been replaced with the legs of a deer. The force interview meat packing plants about the glue used and ask for taxidermists advice but nothing uncovers any firm leads.
When the second body is found, Gabi does her best to keep any details out of the press; the killer obviously wants attention but she won't be the one to give it to him. But when the third body is found at a public art show by her own daughter the case starts to spiral out of her control.
Struggling journalist Jonno Haim is also attending the art show where the third body is found but instead of following the police orders to leave, he follows his nose for a story and starts to connect the dots between the local murders. He offers money and anonymity to anyone who can help his story and more importantly, boost his online persona. What he doesn't realise is how he's feeding the machine, encouraging an evil that's growing stronger off the exposure he's giving it.
Broken Monsters is set in the dark underbelly of Detroit, bubbling with crime, poverty and abandoned factories, creating a powerfully noirish first impression. The characters drawn into the murders are all struggling with their own demons that are only exaggerated by the city itself. You are introduced to the killer early on, so there is no secret to his physical identity, and you experience not just his actions but his deranged state of mind. A gradual introduction to characters and locations gives way to fast plotting about half way through, speeding up to gripping ending that is as twisted as it is enjoyable.
Not for the faint-hearted, Broken Monsters isn't excessively graphic but it has a certain darkness that gets under your skin. As the tale unfolds, it not only serves up a vivid character study of a gruesome killer but also raises questions of how social media now plays a part in crimes and investigations, which is a sadly current topic. These issues are what makes Broken Monsters so much more interesting than many crime/fantasy novels out there at the moment. If you fancy something well written, disturbingly dark but with some real depth, then Broken Monsters is it.