The Battered Butterfly
By Jake Jacobs
Rev. by R. Pedreira
Jake Jacobs conducted extensive research to provide the
concrete details that make The Battered Butterfly come alive.
Roberto is personally
familiar with most of the locations mentioned in the book, although not so
which he merely quickly passed through a few times. But Jake Jacob's
expert command of the English language transports us mentally into the
many go-go bars and other gin-joints and pleasure-palaces to be found in
South East and at one time North East Asia.
The hero of the story is a
former tough New York City street cop named Lefty, turned itinerant
gambler and appreciator of feminine charm, especially at the budget prices
available in the Philippines. A girl with a butterfly tattoo turns up
battered and dead. Who done it? And Why? As homicide detectives know, who
and why are usually connected. Why provides clues as to who. Lefty knew
the deceased and seems the logical suspect. He is accused, arrested,
threatened, chased. He must find the murderer before he takes the fall
himself. Can he do it?
It is a cliff-hanger, but somehow we pull for
lefty. After all, apart from being a former New York City cop, a man of
many resources, and despite the dissolute life he leads, he is a man of
honor and has a sense of humor (a New York street cop’s sense anyway).
Jake Jacobs is a veteran
Hollywood screen-writer with one or more Don "The Dragon" Wilson
pictures to his credit, including the classic Ring of
Fire. Movie rights are where the money is and sequels
spell money. Why make one movie when you can make a never-ending
money-spinning series? Orson Welles as Hank Quinlan in A Touch of Evil would be perfect for
Orson is no longer with us, so he's out. Don Wilson might be ok if he
put on some pounds. The movie version would benefit from some jumping spin
kicks for the younger demographic.
Jake Jacob’s appreciation for cinema is evident in some of
his defter descriptive explorations. The Harvard educated yakuza is an obvious
homage to Mike Mazurki in Billy Wilder's Some Like it Hot. Nice touch.
There are others.
If you like
stories like Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamozov, Ulysses,
and the novels of Franz Kafka (long paragraphs!), don’t read
The Battered Butterfly. But if you like stories with short chapters,
bar-ladies, pole-dancers, foreigner riff-raff and deadbeats, Harvard
educated Japanese gangsters, and more, read it. It isn't that long and it
isn't hard to understand. And you just might learn something.
Many years ago, somewhere near the edge of the
earth, as it was then known by
local foreign residents, Roberto met someone who could have been a
character in The Battered Butterfly. He told Roberto that he was working on a novel.
That someone was Jake Jacobs. The Battered Butterfly apparently
is that novel.
earlier version of this review appeared on amazon.co.jp
(c) R. Pedreira. All rights