Thursday, 30 March 2017

Butterfly On The Storm by Walter Lucius

Butterfly On The Storm by Walter Lucius

First published in Dutch as De Vlinder En De Storm in the Netherlands by Bruna Uitgevers in 2013. English language translation by Laura Vroomen and Lorraine T Miller published by Michael Joseph today, the 30th March 2017.

One of my WorldReads from the Netherlands

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'When a simple hit and run turns into a murder investigation, Journalist Farah Hafez finds herself pulled into a sinister world where nothing is as it seems. Butterfly On The Storm is the first book in the bestselling Dutch thriller series The Heartland Trilogy.

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.'

Butterfly On The Storm is an expansive, exciting thriller which explodes out from one seemingly insignificant accident in Amsterdam to take in global corruption stretching as far afield as Russia, South Africa and Afghanistan. While I am not sure that its trumpeted comparisons with the Stieg Larson trilogy will actually do its Dutch cousin any favours, I can see why the connection is being made. Once this novel gets up to speed it is a breathtaking ride and I loved Lucius' almost cinematic devices such as repeatedly seeing events through multiple viewpoints. This is particularly effective on the flyover (you'll have to read the book to find out how!)

I also loved the diversity of characters Lucius portrays. The intricacies of contemporary cosmopolitan Dutch society form an important part of this story so we see the successful melding of numerous peoples and cultures in Amsterdam, while Lucius also gives a nod to politicians blaming immigration for all the Netherlands' problems, whether or not that is the genuine cause, and using this divisive rhetoric as a smokescreen to hide nefarious corporate dealings. Moroccan-born Diba is an excellent variation on the older-detective-falling-apart staple and I loved how journalist Farah Hafez is not typical in any way. An excellent female character!

As far as believability goes, I did find myself a couple of times thinking 'really?', but generally the set up and build up are plausible. Lucius cleverly drew me in to the world as he created it and I didn't want to put this book down for any reason! As thrillers go, this is one of the best I have read in years. I'm eagerly looking forward to the other two in the trilogy!

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Walter Lucius / Thrillers / Books from the Netherlands


  1. I hate when they try to market a book by comparing it to another. It sets us up for disappointment. :/ Just be you.