Imagine a large wooden table.
On it are a few hundred pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
The pieces are scattered on the surface of the table.
Some are placed upside down, other downside up.
One way or the other there should be a connection between all these pieces.
All of a sudden a hand with a writing pen is seen above the table.
The pieces start moving.
Some of the upside down on’s turn around and you see a colour, a part of a body, a part of a house, a part of …
Some pieces interlock and move to a corner.
Other pieces take central stage.
The hand moves the pieces as if a magnet is at work.
Slowly a larger picture emerges, but the empty spaces are still mind boggling.
In the end …
This is what I thought while reading Broken Monsters by the South African writer Lauren Beukes. The book is set in Detroit, United States of America, a place with abandoned factories, empty houses and people on the move.
At a busstop a dead body has been found, part animal, part human. The two parts have been glued together. Part young black boy, part deer. The pieces start moving, colours appearing, people turning upside up. People in the margin of the story (is it?) and the policewoman Gabi Versado (from Afro-American descent) and her daughter Layla (with latino influences). The police squad researching the case gives the dead multiple body the name Bambi. Innocent and dead. The hunt is on. But where to look for the missing pieces?
The pieces move on a day to day basis and frequency. The story start on Sunday, November 9 and ends on Wednesday, November 19. The pieces come together and drift apart. A pattern evolves and devolves. The press moves in, even the modern day press for everyone can handle a camera and use the internet to show progress or decline in the ongoing investigation. Modern means of communication play a role in this novel, for instance the way daughter Layla communicates with her friends.
We follow the perspective on the story from different perspectives and you need a clear had (or you have to make notes) to follow the events unfold. The pieces of the puzzle dance in ever narrowing circles on your wooden table.
Maybe I did not pay attention to the way the pieces were interlocking, but I thought there was a sudden move by the hand above the wooden table when Clayton Broom suddenly gets the attention of the police. I did not see that one coming.
Lauren Beukes wrote a book that captivated me, fortunately without devouring me. The pieces came together and they puzzled me. What forces were at play? What happened behind the scenes? What force was present in the invisible world? This is a book that is not finished when you have read the last page.
Lauren Beukes – Broken Monsters – 2014