THE BUTTERFLIES' COAT by Ronald Williams


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In Williams’ (A Voice from the Tomb, 2013, etc.) thriller, a murder on a Caribbean island may be related to the construction of a plant to build fuel-efficient cars.

Cancer survivor and former painter Anis Watson grew up on the island of Saint Euribius, but the crush of tourists there sometimes makes her and her friends feel out of place. One day, however, Anis finds that she’s strangely linked to a foreigner, a wealthy American named Neil Erickson who was recently mutilated and murdered. A painting she sold to Erickson over a decade ago has somehow wound up in her own shed full of unsold pieces. Meanwhile, attorney Aurelius St. John has questions about a multimillion dollar project: Erickson, his client, was a chief investor in an auto plant, but there’s unexplained government money hidden in its construction costs, which include outlays for dual-reinforced steel walls. An increasingly snoopy Aurelius thinks he might be on the right track when he checks out the nearly completed plant and gets himself arrested for trespassing. It turns out that something secret and sinister may lurk behind its walls, leading to blackmail, betrayal and more murder. This mystery takes its time establishing its lead characters. At first, the book centers on Anis and how she’s avoided romance since losing a breast to cancer years before; no longer inspired by painting, she now works as a part-time art teacher. Her pal Marjorie initially mentions Erickson’s murder only in passing, but it gradually dominates the plot. Anis fears it may be connected to the puzzling disappearance of another man, a village regular who once lived with her. The identity of the killer(s) isn’t surprising, but the motive behind the murders is, as are other related illicit activities. The author also drops in a late twist that most readers won’t see coming. He renders the local dialect phonetically, but words such as “wid” (for “with”) and “sheself,” while unusual, will be clear enough to readers. Much of the story reads like poetry, verbose in the most beautiful way: Anis recalls, for instance, listening to the Moody Blues on the radio with a former lover and entering a “Moody Blued world of softness, mystery, and possibility.”

An assiduous but emotionally vibrant thriller.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 2014
ISBN: 978-1500355241
Page count: 500pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2015


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