Adam Colclough lives and works in the West Midlands, he writes regularly for a number of websites, one day he will get round to writing a book for someone else to review.
Detroit, motor city in decline; the ruined city that has become a symbol for the death of the American dream, a serial killer with a taste for turning murder into art stalks its crumbling streets.
On his tail is Gabi Versado, a homicide cop burnt out by years on the street and a ‘citizen journalist’ willing to bend any rule to get the story that will make his name; both are about to be plunged into a nightmare darker than anything they could have imagined.
This probably sounds like the set-up to a fairly typical thriller, one that touches all the usual bases delivering a few shocks but few genuine surprises; in the hands of Lauren Beukes the familiar is transformed into something alarming, original and sickeningly surreal.
The hunt for a serial killer amongst the wrecked factories of Detroit, though handled with an admirable understanding of plot and pacing, is really just a peg on which Beukes can hang her exploration of other more complicated issues. Like the way the city’s decline has become a sort of ‘disaster porn’ with journalists, artists and the plain voyeuristic attracted by the striking images of decay it presents whilst at the same time ignoring the suffering of its inhabitants.
She makes inventive use of the way the internet and social media have transformed the way people relate to reality and the consequences of their actions. Beukes also has a distinctive take on the conventions of the thriller genre, pushing them just far enough to shock her readers without making the result too over the top to be credible.
Bookshops will probably place this novel in the thriller section, and it certainly stands up well against most other such books, with its dystopian vision of society on the edge of collapse and understanding of the fractured dynamics within families it could equally well find a place in the science-fiction or literary sections. Readers will simply enjoy it as a brilliantly conceived piece of work from a writer with a distinctive voice.