Max Roper is one of the new-fangled breed who includes murder in his arsenal of security activities. In The Pushbutton Butterfly, he has to track a missing girl through a myriad of fascinating, violent, and potentially evil people, including an idealistic student rebel at Berkeley; the most fashionable of gurus; young coeds who augment their income by pushing heroin; a motorcycle gang leader who is flying high all the time; and a staid, liberal pillar of the Establishment who secretly collects pornographic pictures.
Roper is a compelling man who carries his own standards of behavior into every society he encounters. He fits best with the local police who are his friends, with an aspiring Mr. America, whom he can throw with karate, indeed with all types of evildoers and guardians against evildoers. He’s an adaptable fellow, though, and manages to get on well—when he has to—with millionaires and murderers of all classes.
The Pushbutton Butterfly begins when Max Roper’s boss, head of an organization called EPT, sends him out to investigate the report of a missing girl, a security project. EPT, an offshoot of a wartime operation, occasionally does top, top secret jobs for the CIA and other legal espionage groups. In this case, the girl’s father is manufacturing some highly important electronic gadgets, and there’s some danger that pressure could be exerted o him through his daughter to release secret formulas. The father, who is understandably inimical to Roper’s presence in the case, gives grudging cooperation. The girl is a student at Berkeley, and there Max goes to learn what he can from her friends. He finds one of them almost immediately, an attractive girl whose charms are not improved the condition in which Max finds her, which is very dead.
From this opening, there is no letdown to the pace and excitement of The Pushbutton Butterfly, Max Roper’s first case, a provocative introduction.