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Bloody Shambles

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Pale Fire: A Poem in Four Cantos by John Shade
Vladimir Nabokov, Brian Boyd
Pale Fire
Vladimir Nabokov
Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition
Michael Moynihan, Didrik Søderlind
Under Stones
Bob Franklin
The Erotic Potential of My Wife
David Foenkinos, Yasmine Gaspard
A Corner of White
Jaclyn Moriarty
Winter's Bone
Daniel Woodrell
Progress: 99 %
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
Neil Gaiman
The Beetle
Richard Marsh
Wreck This Journal
Keri Smith
The Shining Girls - Lauren Beukes This is an entertaining read, but I really don't think it lives up to the hype. I loved Beukes' first two novels, so I was really looking forward to this before I even read the synopsis. I know a lot of people are excited by the idea of a time-travelling serial killer, but for some reason this doesn't strike me as being all that ground-breaking. It's not that I've read a lot of time-travelling-serial-killer books before or anything, but... just..... sure. Okay.I got about 25% of the way in, and was still pretty underwhelmed. Then I heard an interview with Beukes on The Guardian's fiction podcast. She explained that she wanted to present a serial killer story from the perspective of the victims instead of the serial killer, giving the women back-stories and focussing on how these acts of horrific violence seem to them and how this impacts on everyone around them. Now THIS excited me. What a novel perspective! That aspect of the book ended up being quite good, but the victims' vignettes felt too brief to me, and at the end of the day didn't leave much of an impression. Then there were the references to the time period of each event. This scene is set in 1992- insert grunge, zines, checked shirts, bomber jackets and a fascination with Jeffrey Dahmer. This scene is set in 1972 - so it's all about abortion, women's lib & scratchy cassettes taped from vinyl. People in the 50s are named Alice, Joey, Luella..... you get my point. It's all a bit whatever-the-opposite-of-anachronistic-is. "Achronistic" presumably. My point is that it comes off as very, very deliberate and not at all subtle.Another disappointment was the attack on the main character, Kirby. The build up to the event was great, but when I got there I found that it just didn't shock me the way I was expecting it to. The description seemed a little awkward, so I found myself wondering, "How would that even work? What would that bit look like?" It took me out of the moment enough to dampen any horror I might have felt. There is one element to the attack which makes the scene really shocking (which I won't spoil for you), but it's flagged very early on in the book, so this also limits the shock factor.What Beukes did do really well, I thought, was her portrayal of the serial killer. His character was much more nuanced, despite (or possibly as a result of) her intention not to glamourise him. He has this internal logic, a system for killing his victims, but he's disorganised and none too bright. So he's constantly revising his methodology to make everything seem more cosmic than it really is. He has to fix things, because "the stars must realign". This all struck me as a very realistic portrait, more subtly written and a nice change from the usual serial killer stories in which we see the killer carry out a consistent plan.Overall this is a quick, entertaining read. As always, it is very well written. Like Beukes' other novels though, I think the brilliant ideas are there but they need fleshing out more fully. My theory is, from having heard her speak, that the ideas come to her more quickly than she can flesh them out. I suspect that by the time she writes up each element, her mind's already moved on to the next big thing. For me, it's always frustrating to see the potential of a great idea not fully realised. Much as I hate to say it, I think this needed to be a longer book to execute the writer's vision. The Shining Girls is a pretty decent light read though, and I imagine a lot of people will enjoy it.