The mayor of Copenhagen is found murdered in his luxury apartment. Detective Lars Winkler is put on this sensitive case, which is further complicated by the fact that the victim’s mother is the leader of the country’s most radical political party and the current minister of finance. Lars notices the minister and her husband are strangely untouched by their son’s death. When he begins to dig into the mayor’s past, he slowly uncovers the dark story of a young, idealistic man who had only one wish: to free himself of his family and live his own life.
Dark and chilling, The Scream of the Butterfly is Scandinavian crime at its best.
Melander's trite and derivative second Lars Winkler mystery (after The House That Jack Built) opens with a flashback to a murder that's witnessed by a young child. In the present, Det. Winkler arrives at the scene of a different murder, this time of of Copenhagen's mayor. He interviews a shocked witness, Serafine, a young transgender woman who is unable or unwilling to explain her connection to the mayor. She becomes the book's other protagonist, and Lars must discover the story of her relationship with the mayor in order to solve the case. What follows is a political thriller told in both past and present, involving Albanian mafia, the suppression of politically damaging charges of pedophilia, and political corruption on a grand scale. Unfortunately, Melander's prose is lackluster, his plotting is stock, and Winkler is yet another world-weary, "broken" detective. The clich d mishandling of Serafine's story line is especially disappointing; she endures negative, often hostile, attitudes held by everyone but a couple of primary characters, who are seemingly intended to look good by comparison to the overt bigots . In better hands this could have been an exceptional novel. As it is, it's recommended only for those who already like the series.