The Butterfly Enigma
Lorraine Campbell’s The Butterfly Enigma is an exhilarating novel about a woman’s determination to find the truth about her childhood and her unrelenting search for justice. Lena Marceau has always wondered what her parents were like. She hardly remembers her father’s death and escaping Latvia with her mother following the Nazi invasion. Shortly thereafter, Lena was found wandering the streets in Paris, lost and alone. Twenty-five years later, Lena’s failed marriage has sent her in search of a fulfilling career that will pay the bills. After studying and mastering high-speed shorthand, Lena begins working for the Melbourne Law Courts. While in court, she meets Judge Ferik whose voice completely terrifies her; though she cannot place him, Lena believes she has met Ferik before. When Lena sees Ferik’s wife at a party wearing a pair of butterfly earrings identical to the ones her mother wore, she is convinced that she and Ferik share an unpleasant history. While her mysterious past unfolds, Lena is whisked up in a scandalous affair and helps uncover the secrets of a serial killer. Thrilling, heartbreaking, and even sensuous, The Butterfly Enigma will appeal to a wide range of readers as Campbell’s prose has something to offer everyone.
Within the first chapter, Campbell immediately invites readers into a gripping narrative; from the start her words are electrifying, and the action she paints is absolutely harrowing. The stakes are obviously high, and it is impossible to not get swept into the emotional drama of Lena’s escape from Latvia.
Sadly, Campbell is unable to keep up with the emotional momentum of the opening chapters. Once Lena is introduced as an adult in Melbourne, the sparkle in Campbell’s writing fades. This part of the novel launches into a series of hardly interesting events and as a whole acts as a kind of commentary on the judicial system in Melbourne. Though some of her descriptions of court reporting and general law are interesting, Campbell’s explanations are not concise enough, and her writing mostly lacks the emotional drive. The plot becomes bogged down by these details, the breathtaking opening chapters now a faint memory.
Trudging through the first half of the novel, however, is ultimately gratifying. After a long introduction to her characters, Campbell once again writes with tenacity as she begins to really delve into the mystery of the serial killer and uncovers important people and stories from Lena’s past. The emotional element, now mixed with a bit of horror, makes The Butterfly Enigma impossible to put down.
Unfortunately Campbell’s plot lines do falter at times. Though the serial killer prompts a lot of the novel’s exhilarating moments, this part of the story seems disappointingly unrelated to the large overarching story. It feels random and coincidental. And even though Campbell successfully elicits mystery in other parts of the novel, Judge Ferik’s secrets and his connection to Lena feels too predictable. The plot, in general, is void of a shocking twist. And, finally, Campbell focuses too much on Lena’s romantic relationships. Her complicated love life is trivial in light of other events in the novel, yet it receives just as much attention. Lena’s tumultuous relationships are distracting and overworked.
As a whole, Campbell’s novel is engaging as her character’s narratives weave and intersect with each other and as their most sought-after answers are unveiled. Once the complex plot gets moving, the novel is a page-turner through the end. The opening chapters, alone, show just how beautiful Campbell’s writing is. But perhaps the most powerful aspect of The Butterfly Enigma lies in the tough question it poses about what is morally justifiable, which continues to loom long after finishing the novel.
|Page Count||414 pages|
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