The Butterfly Effect

Previous article
Next article

By Pernille Rygg
Translated by Joan Tate

The “Butterfly Effect” is a concept from chaos theory that suggests that tiny changes in one part of a system can later create enormous effects in another part of the system.

Mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz, who first noticed the effect, used the metaphor of a butterfly flapping its wings and many weeks later and miles away causing tornadoes.

In this story, Igi Heitmann is a clinical psychologist researching whether chaos theory can be applied to human behavior.

Her father, an alcoholic private investigator, has recently been killed in Oslo by a hit-and-run driver. Her wealthy mother, now remarried, has taken over the funeral arrangements, relegating Igi’s father’s friends to the back row of the chapel and not inviting them to the lavish reception held afterwards at her house. Finally, Igi’s marriage to a bisexual transvestite is loving, but challenging, to say the least.

She decides to take a break from her own life and explore what was going on in her father’s life and whether his death was a random accident . . . or something else. In his down-at-the-heels office, Igi finds a butterfly pendant tucked into an envelope with the name and address of a young woman.

Thus begins the first flutter of the butterfly’s wings that ultimately leads Igi to the bodies of two young women, one long missing and the other shot twice and buried under plowed snow.

Igi’s dogged search for answers takes her over ground her father once covered when the first girl went missing long ago and he was hired to search for her. It leads her into a tangled web of child abuse, real estate graft and psychiatric malfeasance. Her search leads her into wealthy neighborhoods and through seedy bars in this atmospheric, wintery novel.

About the Author: Pernille Rygg (1963 – )


Pernille Rygg studied history and ethnology and worked as set painter for film companies and the Norwegian Broadcasting Company. This is her first novel.

In addition to The Butterfly Effect (1997), she wrote The Golden Section (2002).

This book was translated into English by Joan Tate who has also translated many of director Ingmar Bergman’s autobiography and fiction. She has also worked with many leading Swedish writers, including translating Blackwater by Kirstin Eckman.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here