Sunday, December 4, 2011

"The Butterfly Forest"

Tom Lowe's Sean O'Brien mystery/thriller series includes A False Dawn, The 24th Letter, and The Butterfly Forest.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Butterfly Forest and reported the following:
Imagine not smelling the scent of a pine tree, a flower, or rain for forty years. Page 69, in The Butterfly Forest, is where Luke Palmer's five senses are all engaged at the same moment, a moment he hadn't experienced in four decades. After spending most of his life in a 6x10 cage in San Quentin for a crime he didn't commit, Palmer is released, and the first place he goes is to the center of a vast, ancient forest. It's a place full of birdsong, clear running creeks, blue sky and horror.

Palmer is carrying an worn map, a payback for saving an inmate's life in a knife fight. The map points the way to a fortune buried by the Ma Barker gang before they were killed in the most volatile shootout in the history of the FBI. Palmer is searching deep in the national forest when he's approached by a park ranger who is suspicious and tells Palmer the national forest is no place for the homeless. On page 69, Palmer responds. "I'm not homeless. I'm here 'cause I haven't smelled a pine tree in forty years."
"What's with the steel rod? That some kind of primitive weapon?"

"I heard there's lots of Civil War artifacts, you know, mini-balls in the forest."

"You can't be digging up the national forest without a permit."
The next day the body of a young woman is found in a shallow grave. She's dressed in a gown from the Middle Ages, fairy wings folded behind her back. Sean O' Brien is thrust into the investigation by default when the daughter of a woman he likes goes missing in the same forest. Palmer is an immediate suspect. O'Brien finds reason to believe there's more to the murder than what appears on the surface -- something that nurtures a present terror with a connection to a shootout in 1935.

Page 69 delivers to the reader a sense of the recurring nightmare Luke Palmer has lived for forty years. The taste of freedom, the sights and smells of nature to be swept away again for a crime he did not commit. He's an innocent man in the heart of a forest with dark secrets.

In my novels, I've used issues such as the death penalty and human trafficking to add relevant texture to the stories. Page 69 opens two doors: one is to the inner demons - the post traumatic syndrome of the innocent jailed and then freed. The second is a door to a buried secret and how a horror from the past can intersect with greed in the present and create a dark crossroads to follow.

I hope you enjoy the story.
Learn more about the book and author at Tom Lowe's website.

The Page 69 Test: The 24th Letter.

My Book, The Movie: The Butterfly Forest.

--Marshal Zeringue