The Butterfly Clues
Publisher: Andersen Press
Since the death of her brother Oren a year earlier, Penelope (known as ‘Lo’) has become an obsessive hoarder who has to perform a succession of rituals just to get herself through the day. She has to tap three times and say the word ‘banana’ before she enters a room; she has to repeat things in multiples of three, six or nine; and most of all, she is compelled to collect (or sometimes even steal) quirky trinkets and souvenirs that call out to her.
When she finds a beautiful antique blue butterfly pendant during a visit to a flea market, she knows she must have it as her own – only to learn that it previously belonged to a girl known as ‘Sapphire’ – a stripper recently murdered in ‘Neverland’, the crime-ridden inner-city area of Cleveland. Feeling a strange connection to Sapphire, Lo can’t get the murder out of her mind, and soon her obsession leads her to a dark and dangerous underworld of seedy strip clubs and run-down abandoned buildings – as well as to enigmatic artist Flynt.
Blending a tense and compelling murder mystery with a thoughtful story of self-discovery and dealing with loss, this is an impressive debut novel. Lo makes for an engaging central character, and readers will be drawn in by Ellison's beautiful prose style.