Monday, November 2

The Roar of the Butterflies – Reginald Hill

Luton-based PI Joe Sixsmith is melting in the heat of his office, in the midst of an unseasonably warm British summer, when a Young Fair God engages him to investigate a delicate matter. Christian Porphyry has been accused of a heinous crime – cheating on the links of one of Britain’s most exclusive greens, the Royal Hoo Golf Club. Chris swears he didn’t do it, and Joe’s inclined to believe him, but what tilts the balance is a very generous retainer and an immediate liking of the young man.
What Joe knows about golf can, as he says himself, be written on the tip of a tee, but that doesn’t get in the way of him investigating what turns out to be one of the most devious cases of his career – an investigation that includes him being dangled over his own balcony not once but twice, receiving a literal bollocking, and risking running against the interests of Ratcliffe King (aka King Rat), one of the most powerful and connected men in the country.
Lighter than his more wellknown Dalziel and Pascoe, Hill’s Sixsmith stories are entertaining and engaging. The Roar of the Butterflies, a title that refers to a Wodehouse story describing the potential for any noise to interfere with the concentration of a serious golfer, is simultaneously current and echoes a Wodehousian sensibility. As Sixsmith negotiates a world as far removed from his own black, work class environment as possible, his knowledge of human nature and his instincts meanderingly lead him to the truth.
I love the protagonist, who
Had experienced plenty of being put in his place, which he played little heed to on the grounds that he found his place so very much to his liking that he had no notion of trying to get out of it. Also it was often very helpful to a PI for folk to be so certain you were in your place they didn’t watch you as close as they should have done.
In The Roar of the Butterflies Hill combines a unique and interesting mystery with a fascinating study of human nature, and the novel concludes with a truly satisfying ending. - Alex

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