Aussie Book Review: Shooting Butterflies by T.M. Clark

"A vivid and suspenseful portrayal of the contradictions of Africa and her people, traditions and superstitions – from the acclaimed author of My Brother-But-One.

He sees ‘The Butterfly’ in his dreams.
She is the key to setting a child’s soul free.
She is the perfect sacrifice.

Ex-soldier Kirkman ‘Buffel’ Potgieter lives by the motto of his former military unit: Tiri Tose, which is Shona for ‘we are together’…but also for ‘there is no escape’. So when Shilo Jamison Khumalo betrays Buffel by saving a neighbour’s child, Tara Wright, from becoming the latest addition to his sinister ‘butterfly’ collection, it sparks Buffel’s obsession with hunting them both down.

After Tara witnesses the murder of her father and uncle, she and her remaining family leave Zimbabwe for a new life in South Africa. There, a teenaged Tara meets Wayne Botha—but finds she isn’t prepared for the price she is asked to pay for falling in love. After Tara secretly flees the conservative rural community, Wayne never gives up hope of ever seeing his one true love again.

But years later, out of the blue, Tara makes contact with Wayne to reveal a secret—and some potentially devastating news. In a twist of fate, Wayne and Jamison find they have far more in common than just a passion for African wildlife and join forces to protect Wayne’s new family. But the threat of Buffel is still looming—and Jamison knows only too well that there will be ‘no escape’ for him and Tara, ‘The Butterfly’."

Africa’s dirty little secret, one that most of the Western World would probably find difficult to fathom - that of traditional African medicine or magical charms - is brought to life in this, T.M. Clark’s second novel set on a beautiful but sometimes harsh continent.

Rhodesia, 1946 - While out hunting in the bush, ten year old Kirk Potgieter and his best friend, Impendla make a gruesome discovery that causes Impendla a huge amount of fear as he knows what it all means. Kirk, however, having been brought up in a Christian home on a mission station, does not hold the traditional African beliefs that Impendla does so, when Impendla goes missing and a search party is sent out only to find his little body hanging from the same trees they stumbled upon the day before, he is filled with remorse at not being able to save him.

A number of years later, Kirk, now known as “Buffel”, still fighting the demons and nightmares that have haunted him since Impendla’s death, is a commander with the Psychological Operations Unit (PSYOPS). When one of his fellow soldiers, Shilo Khumalo, discovers that he has been committing unnecessary murders, he is horrified and determines to keep a special eye on him. Luckily for Shilo, there appears to be a faint connection of trust between him and Buffel and, when they finally leave the unit, Shilo goes to work for him on his farm.

Zimbabwe, 1981 – If it wasn’t for the day that Tara Wright and her mother visited their next door neighbour, Buffel, he would never have noticed this beautiful butterfly. One day, out riding with her father, uncle and cousin, Gabe, tragedy strikes and Tara is forced to run to the safety of their farm, Whispering Winds, on her own to seek help. When she reaches the gate she is unable to open it and begins to panic, worried that the murderer will find her. Whilst battling with the gate, a farm worker appears and comes to her assistance, opening it for her and telling her to run.

With her father and uncle both dead, Tara’s mother decides to relocate her little family to South Africa to begin a new life. For a time, all is well and Tara meets the love of her life, Wayne Botha. Unfortunately, while it seems that the fates are against their love for each other, another far more sinister threat continues to loom unknowingly over Tara’s life. Will the butterfly be able to escape the clutches of a depraved man who is still so set on atonement for his guilt?

Tina’s books, while published by Harlequin (a well-known romance novel publisher), definitely do not sit in the genre of romance only. There is so much at stake in her characters’ lives both emotionally and physically which enables her to cross genres by incorporating drama, history, adventure, intrigue, suspense, as well as the multi-cultural aspects of the inhabitants of Zimbabwe and South Africa, bordering on a sweeping saga – all in four hundred pages.

Drawing on fragments of her own life and experiences on the African continent, her knowledge of the traditional beliefs of the African culture, her first-hand experience with conflict in countries divided by political unrest as well as a huge amount of research into various themes contained within the covers, Tina isn’t afraid to put her characters through their paces whilst, at the same time, always keeping her readers a few steps away from total comfort.

The rhythm of ancient beliefs pulses strongly within this narrative and, just like Africa and its wilds, Tina has penned a book which is unpredictable, brutally honest and in tune to rural African mythology and the esoteric heart which beats at its core.

Passionately told, filled with compelling characters, a dramatic landscape, the scents and sounds of the African wilderness, a love that one hopes will transcend time and some truly bone-chilling moments, this is the ideal read for one of those nights spent around a blazing fire with the stars gazing down upon you.

I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a hard copy of this novel and cannot wait to see what she brings us in Tears of the Cheetah which is due to be released in December this year.

About the Author

Born in Zimbabwe, Tina Marie completed her primary school years at boarding school in Bulawayo, but on weekends and holidays, her time was spent exploring their family ranch in Nyamandhlovu, normally on the back of her horse.  Her teenage years were totally different to her idyllic childhood.  After her father died, the family of five women moved to Kokstad, a rural town at the foot of the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa, where she lived in the boarding school hostel as her home. In winter she walked to school in the snow and could never get warm, and in summer she sweated having to wear an impractical, but smart, blazer on the same trail.

She began writing fiction when she moved to the UK while being a stay at home mum to her two sons, following a suggestion from her husband Shaun during a trip to Paris, and she hasn't looked back.

Now living on a small island near Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, Tina Marie combines her passion for story telling with her love for Africa. When not running around after the men in her life, she gets to enjoy her hobbies, which include boating, reading, sewing, travel, gardening, and lunching with her friends. (Not necessarily in that order!)  

Passionate about Africa, different cultures and wildlife, most of Tina Marie’s books are set somewhere on that ancient continent. My Brother-But-One first published in 2013 by Harlequin, Mira, was nominated for a Queensland Literary People Choice Award in 2014. Shooting Butterflies was published in 2014 and Tears of The Cheetah will be published in 2015. Tina Marie also runs the CYA Conference in Brisbane, helping others on their journey towards publication.

Readers are welcome to find Tina on social media by following these links:


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