The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
"Penelope (Lo) Marin has always loved to collect beautiful things. Her dad's consulting job means she's grown up moving from one rundown city to the next, and she's learned to cope by collecting (sometimes even stealing) quirky trinkets and souvenirs in each new place--possessions that allow her to feel at least some semblance of home.
But in the year since her brother Oren's death, Lo's hoarding has blossomed into a full-blown, potentially dangerous obsession. She discovers a beautiful, antique butterfly pendant during a routine scour at a weekend flea market, and recognizes it as having been stolen from the home of a recently murdered girl known only as "Sapphire"--a girl just a few years older than Lo. As usual when Lo begins to obsess over something, she can't get the murder out of her mind.
As she attempts to piece together the mysterious "butterfly clues," with the unlikely help of a street artist named Flynt, Lo quickly finds herself caught up in a seedy, violent underworld much closer to home than she ever imagined--a world, she'll ultimately discover, that could hold the key to her brother's tragic death."- summary from Amazon
Wow, this was one hell of a debut! I absolutely loved it and had trouble putting it down. Ellison's prose is just so fascinating to read and the twists and turns are just amazing. It was a compelling mystery and while I had a feeling who the murderer was (mainly through elimination of who'd been in the novel) way before Lo did, it was still a little bit of a shock when it was revealed.
Ellison did a great job handling Lo's OCD and hoarding problems. They were so well integrated into the whole story, which was nice because sometimes I read a book where a character supposedly has something but doesn't exhibit any signs at all. I really felt for Lo when her OCD got the best of her and when others tried to interfere while she did it; plus, she's very insecure about it and how people view her, even though she tries her best to hide it.
While in the middle of writing this review, I had a chat with the awesome Shanyn of Chick Loves Lit about this book. I want to tell everyone that this is not a paranormal. I know it doesn't look or sound it (the "violent underworld" in the summary made me think a paranormal element might be inside), but it is. This is a wonderful, gritty contemporary with a great romance in it too. I loved seeing Lo and Flynt together- they had an interesting chemistry and some rocky obstacles to overcome.
Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough. This book is one of the reasons why I'm glad contemporary is still being published and I'm happy that there's been such great buzz for it. It really deserves it. So go grab a copy on February 14!
FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.