29 November 2008


Harper Collins Publishers, 2008, ISBN 978-0-00-725273-2, 313 pages.

Joe Sixsmith, P.I., has been approached by a YFG (Young Fair God) Chris Porphyry, on the recommendation Detective Inspector Willie Woodbine. Chris has a serious problem at Luton's Royal Hoo Golf Club, where he holds, by inheritance, the controlling shares. He wants Joe to carry out an investigation for him at the club, under the pretence of seeking membership.

His investigation at the golf club takes Joe into a level of society that he doesn't often fraternise with. He knows next to nothing about golf and is in almost constant dread that he will have to show off his lack of prowess. The investigation proves to be far more complex than he has anticipated too. A simple matter of cheating is complicated by the black-balling of a local magnate who wants to expand his grocery chain in a real estate development bordering the golf club. Nor did Joe anticipate that the case might involve violence against his person, to the point of someone dangling him upside down from his own balcony.

This is the fifth in Reginald Hill's Joe Sixsmith series, the first to make an appearance for 9 years. I haven't read any other Joe Sixsmith titles, although I did recently read a short story that featured him in THERE ARE NO GHOSTS IN THE SOVIET UNION.
Joe Sixsmith has a reputation that says he is easy to under-estimate. That when the pressure's on, he will solve the case through startling intuition.

THE ROAR OF BUTTERFLIES made me feel that I really needed to have read earlier titles in the series to understand Joe's relationship with other characters, but perhaps that would not have helped.
And certainly this is a different style of book to Hill's Dalziel & Pascoe series. In the long run though it does turn out to be a murder mystery with the twists and turns of plot, and interesting characters, that we've come to expect from Hill. It is a lighter book, more a cozy, occasionally flavoured with quirky humour.
The title is a bit obscure, although the reader is given the meaning of the phrase quite early on. But at the end I wasn't sure that it was a good fit for this book.

My rating: 4.2

Other titles:
1. Blood Sympathy (1993)
2. Born Guilty (1995)
3. Killing the Lawyers (1997)
4. Singing the Sadness (1999)
5. The Roar of the Butterflies (2008)

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