Salon’s Ultimate Book Guide 2013 asked writers from Junot Díaz to Lee Child to recommend their favourite books they read this year. (I raved about Max Barry’s Lexicon, a smart, twisty thriller that turns into something profoundly more ambitious and surprising with brutality, beauty and empathy).
In Chicago, there’s a house, a brownstone, that’s reeling through time like a drunk on the disco floor. Look out the windows and you can see the months twitching past at the dizzying speed of time-lapse photography, years jittering by in minutes, skyscrapers rising in a mesh of scaffolding, gleaming for a few moments, then vanishing, only to be built again. The front door opens into the thirties one moment, the nineties the next… and a sick puppy named Harper Curtis is the man in possession of the house keys.
Harper has been set loose on history itself, and his time-skipping building is the perfect getaway vehicle for a budding serial killer who strolls across the page like one of Faulkner’s more remorseless creatures. You’ll find Harper — and the sweet punk named Kirby Mazrachi who battles him — in Lauren Beukes’ fabulous thriller “The Shining Girls.” Beukes’ mastery and heart will keep you turning pages all night and her prize monster will haunt your dreams (always assuming you can get to sleep at all). Harper Curtis is a nightmare big enough to cast a shadow over the length of what has sometimes been called The American Century. That’s all right. “Let’s face it, [Harper] thinks, America had it coming.”