This crime thriller is the first of a trilogy billed, as many thrillers are, as the new Millennium Trilogy. Butterfly on the Storm by Walter Lucius does feature horrific examples of abuse, it does feature a campaigning journalist, but for me it fell short of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy. Without that expectation, I would probably have enjoyed this thriller while at the same time being irritated that so much was crammed in.
The action starts from page one and doesn’t stop to breathe. A young girl is the subject of a hit-and-run accident in the Amsterdam woods. In hospital, it becomes clear the girl is a young boy, dressed as a girl dancer and sexually abused by Afghan men now living in Holland. I found the portrayal of immigrant life in Holland fascinating and almost wish the author had examined this in more depth but the story spreads out to South Africa and Russia and its tentacles become confusing.
Accompanying the child to hospital is Dr Danielle Bernson who, following medical experience in Africa, is traumatized when she sees the child suffer. At the hospital, they meet journalist Farah Hafez, originally from Afghanistan, Farah’s identity was changed when she arrived as a child in Holland. She too has a lot of emotional baggage. Farah’s boss teams her with a more experienced journalist, Paul Chapelle, who she knew in Afghanistan. On the police side we have the pair of detectives assigned to the hit-and-run case, Joshua Calvino and Marouan Diba, a sort of young/old, idealistic/world-weary, good cop/bad cop pairing. There is a huge list of characters to accommodate the various storylines which include child trafficking, police corruption, political corruption, Russian violence and international terrorism. There is too much going on.
In the Millennium Trilogy, the first book had a clear distinctive story which allowed the reader to get to know the key characters which would move forward to book two. In Butterfly on the Storm, the first book feels like the episode of a television series where the ending has a hook to make you watch next week. This may work with television, but it left me feeling the novel was incomplete.
Walter Lucius is the pen-name of screenwriter, director and producer Walter Goverde. Read more about his work here. Butterfly on the Storm is the first book in ‘The Heartland Trilogy’.
If you like this, try:-
‘Summer House with Swimming Pool’ by Herman Koch
‘The Long Drop’ by Denise Mina
‘The Accident’ by Chris Pavone
‘Butterfly on the Storm’ by Walter Lucius [UK: Michael Joseph] Buy now
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