Published by Mulholland on 9/16/2014
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After Detective Gabriella Versado discovers the top half of a young boy’s body attached to the hind legs of a deer, she shifts her time and energy toward finding the killer, which leaves her teenage daughter wading the dangerous waters of social media alone. A frustrated young journalist new to Detroit picks up the story of the strange killing and aims to make it a viral sensation just as Detective Versado learns the murder is far from an isolated incident.
While Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy surprised me with a close encounter in Richmond, I was well prepared to take a trip back to my hometown of Detroit in Broken Monsters. Prepared, but nervous. It’s easy to get a distant, overhead look at a city like Detroit, but much more difficult to capture its true feel and Lauren Beukes absolutely nailed it. I knew before I read the acknowledgments that Beukes had done more than just ask a native questions, she spent real time in the city. Not only does she include specific, identifiable landmarks (like a re-named Pewabic Pottery and Heidelberg Project), she writes with a real sense of the city’s speed and mood.
While I found Broken Monsters compelling and difficult to put down, I didn’t get the sense of fear that many have discussed, though it’s rare for me to be scared while reading. My biggest issue came with the novel’s end, which is difficult to talk about without spoiling. I applaud Beukes for working to deviate from the standards in crime fiction, but the sudden shift toward supernatural elements felt misplaced and would have worked if it had been better infused throughout.
I’ve read many books without satisfying endings, but I think this is the most polarized I’ve felt. Though I’m sure many readers will have no problems with the conclusion, I have a hard time feeling like I can recommend the novel, despite everything I loved about it. How much does the end of a book impact your overall opinion? Can you overlook an ending you truly disliked if the majority of a novel is great?