A Reader Opines: The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen

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The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen

Published: August 6th 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Mystery | Thriller | Suspense
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t usually gravitate toward mystery thrillers for reading fare which is a mystery in itself. I enjoy suspense when it is done well. The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen is done well.

“My past was never more than one thought, one breath, one heartbeat away. And then, on that particular October evening, it literally arrived at my doorstep.”

Eight months after dropping out of Tarble, an all-women’s college, twenty-two-year-old Ruby Rousseau is still haunted by the memories of her senior year-a year marred by an affair with her English professor and a deep depression that not only caused her to question her own sanity but prompted a failed suicide attempt.

And then a mysterious paisley print suitcase arrives, bearing Ruby’s name and address on the tag. When Ruby tries to return the luggage to its rightful owner, Beth Richards, her dorm mate at Tarble, she learns that Beth disappeared two days earlier, and the suitcase is the only tangible evidence as to her whereabouts.

Consumed by the mystery of the missing girl and the contents of the luggage-a tattered copy of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, the book on which Ruby based her senior thesis, and which she believes instigated her madness-she sets out to uncover the truth, not only about Beth Richards’s past but also her own. In doing so, Ruby is forced to reexamine the people from her past: the professor who whisked her away to New Orleans and then shattered her heart and the ghosts of dead women writers who beckoned her to join their illustrious group. And when Ruby’s storyline converges with Beth’s in a way she never imagined, she returns to the one place she swore she never would: her alma mater.

Hansen writes beautifully and skillfully builds tension from page one. The story unravels through present day and flashbacks all while keeping a perfect pace, and what a story it is. The high of falling in love, the crash of an ended relationship, guilt, depression and mystery. It’s all within the pages of this book.

The characters could have easily turned out to be cliché, but they aren’t. Ruby is intelligent, emotional and naive. As the reader, I wanted to shake her and tell her to wake up. Mark Suter, the English professor, is that playboy women are warned about from an early age. You can feel the insincerity in his seemingly sincere actions. The other characters reveal themselves through Ruby’s eyes and each of them are, if not unique, notable. They help build the tension and leave trails of clues.

The Butterfly Sister is a really good book and I recommend it to those who love a little mystery with a literary flair.

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