The unimaginable happened. I found myself dining alone without anything to read. I considered shoving in ear buds to listen to an audiobook as I dined, although that seemed inappropriate for a number of reasons. First, I’d draped a white linen napkin across my lap and the bartender was wearing a black bow tie. Second, a writer worth her keyboard wouldn’t tune out the surrounding world when so many juicy stories are waiting to be overheard.
My mother, an avid reader who makes me appear illiterate, recommended “The Butterfly Garden” by Dot Hutchison, calling it an “interesting story with interesting characters.” When I questioned her lack of the word “good,” she said, “It’s well-written. Read it.”
Intrigued, I dropped a few of dollars on the fast-paced eBook about a man who collects butterflies for his garden. By collects, I mean he kidnaps them. By butterflies, I mean attractive, young women he tattoos with large, intricate wings. There is nothing the kidnapper, called the Gardener, won’t do for his beloved butterflies, including feeding and clothing them, providing literature for their reading pleasure, and honoring their requests for entertainment. Of course, the Gardner’s most notable “gift” is a stunningly landscaped garden in which his butterflies can frolic, yet never escape. He also sexually abuses them at will. Assisting the Gardner is his son, a stereotypical sadist who nonetheless is alarming.
Maya, a butterfly who takes her time doling out the details of her life before and during captivity, begins the tale in a FBI interrogation room. While the agents in charge of the case attempt to pry details from her faster than she’s willing to reveal them, the novel is anything but slow. It’s a page turner. Despite its gruesome storyline, I needed to know how Maya escaped the Gardner’s elaborate prison or if she was complicit in his terrifying enterprise.
In short, there’s nothing good about Hutchison’s vicious and heartbreaking “The Butterfly Garden.” Yet there’s no doubt the author cultivated a masterful plot fans of the genre will appreciate.