The Butterfly Clues

Kate Ellison. Egmont USA, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-60684-263-8
Penelope, aka “Lo,” has several obsessive urges—she is drawn to multiples of the number three, repeats the word “banana” for security, and steals various items that she hoards and carefully organizes in her attic bedroom. These compulsions have intensified since her beloved older brother, Oren, died, as has her habit of roaming from her suburban home into different neighborhoods of Cleveland. On one such journey to a seedy section of town dubbed Neverland, Lo is almost hit by a stray bullet. When she learns that a girl was murdered nearby and discovers some of the dead girl’s jewelry at a flea market, Lo becomes determined to find the killer. The mystery pulls Lo into an underworld of strip clubs, drugs, and crime, and also introduces her to Flynt, a street artist who she connects with. In a strong, twisty thriller of a debut, Ellison builds tension effectively, creating credible (if slightly romanticized) portraits of both the decaying, violent streets of Neverland and the compulsions that make Lo such a complex and memorable heroine. Ages 14–up. Agent: Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011
Release date: 02/14/2012
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