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The Shining Girls: A Novel Paperback – January 14, 2014
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Harper Curtis isn’t your run-of-the-mill serial killer. He gets to time travel from the 1920s through the 1980s, killing girls in different decades, all to satisfy a bloodthirsty Chicago bungalow. Yes, you read that correctly: the house makes him do it. In this genre-bending novel, Beukes never explains the origins of this evil house or how it manages to transport Harper from year to year. All we know is that Harper is compelled to track down and murder specific “shining girls” in gruesome ways (usually evisceration), and he gets away with it since he can escape across time. Until he leaves Kirby Mazrachi behind in 1989, that is. Kirby miraculously recovers from the vicious attack and is determined to track down her assailant, even if the police consider it a closed case. She enlists the help of Dan, a reporter at the Sun-Times, and they slowly uncover odd clues left behind in a dozen unsolved murder cases; it turns out Harper has been leaving behind items from the future. Not for all tastes, but fans of urban fantasy may be interested in this clever and detailed supernatural thriller. --Rebecca Vnuk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Intriguing...Beukes deals with slightly surreal things in very real ways. I'm all over it." -- Gillian Flynn, O magazine
"A grisly crime thriller meets sci-fi action meets historical fiction in a wildly inventive summer page-turner." --Entertainment Weekly
"One of the scariest and best-written thrillers of the year, not to mention the most memorable portrait of a serial killer since Henry H. Holmes in....Erik Larson's 2003 nonfiction bestseller The Devil in the White City." --Chicago Sun-Times
"A triumph ... [T]he smart and spunky Kirby Mizrachi is as exciting to follow as any in recent genre fiction ... [E]ach chapter in which [Harper] appears holds a reader's attention, especially the sharply described murder scenes - some of which read as much like starkly rendered battlefield deaths out of Homer as forensic reconstructions of terrible crimes ... This book means business." --NPR.org
"[Beukes is] so profusely talented - capable of wit, darkness, and emotion on a single page - that a blockbuster seems inevitable....The Shining Girls marks her arrival as a major writer of popular fiction." --USA Today
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Harper Curtis is a serial killer who stumbles onto an abandoned house that opens into other times. Using clues from the house, Harper insinuates himself into the lives of pre-selected girls who "shine" at different periods in modern history. He visits them in their childhood, promising he will visit them later. When he does visit them in adulthood, he murders them brutally. Unbeknownst to him, Kirby Mizrachi, one of his "Shining Girls" survives and is determined to find the man who nearly killed her. Kirby teams up with former Homicide reporter Dan Valesquez to solve the case that has left police baffled.
One thing I really appreciated about this book is that (Possible spoiler?) at no point were there any great leaps of logic on the part of the investigators. Even when the evidence starts to mount, the theory seems fantastical. Additionally, Kirby has done her homework on serial killers. Watching her try to apply clinical criteria that won't fit together is equal parts satisfying and frustrating (satisfyingly frustrating?) because she's smart and she *should* be right but she isn't because the reality is so unreal. The only reason I can't give it a full five stars is that I'm not entirely sure if I like the ending. However, The Shining Girls is a nice addition to serial killer crime fiction that never feels stale or tired.
No spoilers, but I found this story intriguing and the characters were fleshed out and you really understood their motives.
Because there is an element of time travel, I feel like I would benefit from a second reading through again (some of the characters actions would make more sense).
I don't read too much non-fiction, but this was enjoyable. A thriller vibe.