The Shining Girls

The Shining Girls - Lauren Beukes Vulnerable/damaged/feisty female protagonist with a sharp tongue and bravado to match? Check.
Ex-homicide cop of an ethnic persuasion haunted by an unsolved case, a shadow of his former self, on the wagon? Check.
Thoroughly detestable antagonist with no back-story? Check.

And that's where the clich├ęs stop.

While the above may be true, each character has a unique voice which helps drive the story along like a careening freight truck. Even the incidental characters are well-crafted and one feels play an essential part in the narrative. A strong story like this can sometimes threaten to lose its main characters and so perhaps a little bit of familiarity in the roles can be a useful thing, a bit like a road-marker indicating 15km to the next rest-stop.

The story is tightly woven, although it doesn't feel like that at first. With time-travelling being a central device, one struggles at first in trying to keep up with the various strands, however, the author manages to bring them all together quite consummately, without it ever seeming botched or manufactured.

Time-travelling stories are tricky by nature but the book deals with it in such a neat manner without there being any glaring errors, and without sanitising the dirtiness that it causes.

The last few chapters were a real treat. At some point you realise that the pace has accelerated and you are hurtling through one critical event after another without any notion of what's going to happen next. And the surprises keep coming. I thought the book had ended twice before it actually did.


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