The Jade Butterfly is the third installment of Jeffrey Round’s gay detective series. The hero, Dan Sharp, is hired by a rich Chinese diplomat to find his sister, who disappeared in the chaos surrounding Tiananmen Square in 1989. It’s as gripping as the last two Dan Sharp mysteries, Lake of the Mountain and Pumpkin Eater.
Dan Sharp is no ordinary private dick. He’s gay, raising a teenage son, coping with alcohol and anger issues and haunted by a past that includes homelessness and hustling. He fears little. He’s kind of the complete opposite of me, a shrieking princess who can’t find his toothbrush in the morning. But much like Dan Sharp, I am observant. I tried looking for clues so I could solve the mystery, but let`s just say Jeff Round is a little more clever than I. Take, for instance, this passage:
China`s great leader, Dan knew, was just one in a long line of politicians who had used scare tactics to imtimidate people, equating the inferred slur of homosexuality with corrupt political practices. Ironically, both sides in the communist-capitalist debate fostered the same kind of fear, with gays caught in the middle, as usual.
That`s a rather profound insight in a book about a guy looking for a missing woman. Check out Round`s poetic descriptions, as well, as when he describes a Chinese bakery as ``a Victorian red-brick building towering over the neighbourhood like someone`s gaunt aunt.`` I think Gaunt Aunt is going to be my new drag name.
Though over 300 pages, this story reads like a breeze. I could hardly put it down, and when I did, I wanted more. I`ll just have to wait for the next Dan Sharp mystery, After the Horses, due out next year.