Butterfly On the Storm
Heartland Trilogy
Walter Lucius
psychological, mystery, thriller, political
Michael Joseph
(30 Mar. 2017)

Haunted by a past you can never escape . . .

A young boy is found in woods outside Amsterdam. Broken and bloody, he appears to be the victim of a brutal hit-and-run. When the police at the hospital ask what happened, the one word the boy repeats they don't understand.

But journalist Farah Hafez does. She left Afghanistan as a child and she recognizes her native tongue. As the boy is taken into surgery she finds herself visiting the scene of the crime, seeking to discover how a little Afghan boy came to be so far from home.

Instead, she comes across a burnt-out car with two bodies inside - a sinister clue to something far darker than a simple road accident.

It is just the start of a journey that will lead her from one twisted strand to another in an intricate web of crime and corruption that stretches across Europe and deep into a past that Farah had sought to escape - a past that nearly killed her.

A young injured child is found on the road.

In the middle of a forest.

At night.

With no cars nearby, and only a phone call to say she was there- the police are alerted.

Set in Amsterdam and its immediate surroundings, we find hat police are very much the same wherever they are located within Europe. The only difference being that the laws that govern how they operate vary.

So this story has as its central characters: a young journalist, originally from Afghanistan but after escaping the Russian invasion was brought up in Amsterdam; two policemen, 1 fat and ill-tempered, Moroccan, and eating all the ‘wrong’ food according to his Italian partner, who is smooth and careful of his health; and a young child.

The policemen have their own personal lives to sort out as they try to untangle the mystery of the child.

Now note that the author is  from Holland and that this is a translation as it was originally published in Holland in 2013.

So for me, the translation sometimes got in the way and the writing style was often irritating. I found that the way the characters suddenly started reminiscing without relating apparently to the current context put me off. Such as, why did the Moroccan think about the bus accident that killed his brother when they were discussing theories about the burnt bodies in the car? Was it the burning vehicle that triggered it? If so, it wasn’t clear. Am I, the reader, supposed to feel more sympathetic towards him as a character? If so, it failed, as he really irritated me.

At times these digressions spoilt he flow and pace for me, but thankfully they were not enough to stop me continuing to read. It was for me an uncomfortable style of writing that is not uncommon amongst Europeans especially, but not exclusively, Nordic writers.

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