I felt absolutely creepy for reading this book. Thriller’s and murder mysteries are not my normal genre-of-choice, so when I was reading this, I felt like it was this terrible, awkward secret that I couldn’t explain.
After seeing Lauren Beukes The Shining Girls on a NPR list of suggested Science Fiction books and in a couple other reviews as a contender for one of the best genre books for 2013, I thought to myself “aw, what the heck,” and downloaded it for my iPad. Because I’m a sucker for time travel.
Right now, I imagine you’re a bit confused. “I thought he said it’s a murder mystery/thriller. What does time travel have to do with that?”
Oh, so much.
Chased out of Hooverville and injured, Harper Curtis ends up in a large house in 1930s Chicago. The owner seems to have been recently murdered and Harper needs a place to stay. As he recovers from the wound, with some help from the hospital, he discovers that one room in the house can take him up to sixty years in the future.
As Harper explores the opportunities Chicago has over a period of sixty years, we switch to a different character perspective that of Kirby Mizrachi, a survivor of a murder attempt, now with an internship at the Chicago Sun-Times. She has started to put together the pieces in the fallout of her assault, and realizes that there are far more incidents than just hers.
On a wicked hunt through time, Kirby tries to track down those who may be connected with victims while Harper seeks the perfect of closing circles and planning and plotting, moving backwards and forwards through time until the tense denouement.
Beukes does not play soft with her characters, or her descriptions, vividly describing crime scenes with an intensity that might make regular viewers of CSI shudder. She carefully pins her characters between a rock and a hard place. Where most writers would protectively pull their characters safely out of a situation, Beukes lets them fend for themselves, fighting against an evil split through time.
The time travel device, which I was afraid would be incredibly hokey, turned out masterful and well-rounded. Beukes is careful and considerate about the impact her character has when time travelling, and seems to understand the device better than many Science Fiction writers.
I would highly recommend this book, with a warning for gore, potential triggers, and sensitivity to the fact that you might feel incredibly creepy while reading this book.