TITLE: The Shining Girls
AUTHOR: Lauren Beukes
I have a new must-read author! This is not her first book, and while I was aware of her earlier books, I hadn't gotten around to reading them, or even getting them. But the plot of this caught my attention: time traveling serial killer. That covers science fiction and mysteries, two of my favorite genres to read. As it turns out, the science fiction is more fantasy due to there being no explanation for the killer's ability to travel forward from the 1930s. All he needs do is be in the house he found, think of a time to visit, then step outside.
Through a series of events that seem pre-determined, petty criminal Harper Curtis comes into possession of a coat during the Great Depression and in a pocket of that coat is a key to a house, a house that seems to draw him to it once he puts on the coat. In a bedroom in the house, he finds artifacts pinned to a wall, with names beside them, names of girls written in his handwriting. Names he hasn't written yet. Names of the Shining Girls he knows he must kill.
In the early 1990s, Kirby Mazrachi is a journalism student hellbent on finding the man with a limp who nearly killed her four years earlier. She enlists the reluctant assistance of the reporter who had covered her case and together... I won't say more because this book is too clever, too mind-bending to spoil. The killings are violent and the writing is graphic in that regard, but the prose hums along, painting pictures that bring each of the Shining Girls to life before their encounter with Harper. Beukes makes you care about them and their pre-destined fate. And in Kirby, she has created a protagonist you can't help rooting for, a feisty, take-no-prisoners young woman determined to control her own fate.
The other joy of the book is how Beukes ties up the loose ends, playing with time paradoxes as Harper jumps back and forth through time during his killing spree. If you don't mind scenes of graphic violence, I can't recommend this book highly enough. And now I'm off to read her first book, Moxyland.