Book Review: The Butterflies of Grand Canyon

Set in the 1950’s, twenty-five year old Jane Merkle accompanied by her much older husband Morris, left St. Louis to visit in-laws in Flagstaff where she discovers the joys of butterfly collecting and stumbles into the midst of an old murder mystery. Jane quickly becomes enchanted with the Canyon, especially when she makes a chance acquaintance with park ranger Euell Wigglesworth, a man closer to her in age and spirit then Morris.

After opening someone else’s mail on a whim, Jane works at being in a position to overhear the arranged rendezvous, a device Erhart frequently employs to move the story forward. Meanwhile, speculation continued over the bones rumored to be lying in an eccentric’s garage. Could those be the remains of a resident who disappeared thirteen years ago? No one knew but the park director called in outside assistance to look into the matter that succeeds in bringing old secrets to light.

Erhart’s love of the canyonlands and its inhabitants is obvious in this gentle, if yawningly slow-paced story of discovery that hints at romance and mystery without ever delivering. This will likely leave many readers disappointed as action is reduced to a frustrating crawl, subplots remain unresolved and the characters bend over backwards to avoid confrontation but not infidelity.

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