”Dead is dead,” notes the first detective on site at the brutal crime scene that opens Broken Monsters.”It’s only the hows and whys that vary…. But even violence has its creative limits.”

So do serial-killer thrillers. It falls to the author, then, to pull something fresh from all that well-trod offal. South African novelist Beukes managed it masterfully in last year’s time-traveling best-seller The Shining Girls, and she does it again in Monsters, fleshing out stock characters - tough-as-nails lady cop, ritualistic mad-man murderer, unscrupulous journalist on the make - and imbuing her story with shrewd social commentary, dark humor, and a dusting of metaphysical wonder.