Title: The Summer of Dead Toys
Author: Antonio Hill
Rating: 4 out of 5
What is it about?
Inspector Hector Salgado has just returned to Barcelona after an enforced holiday; he was suspended after brutally beating the key suspect in a pedophilia / human trafficking ring. The suspect has now disappeared and Hector is the prime suspect for having made him disappear. While he waits to hear if his career is over, Hector is asked by his boss to take a second look at the case of the accidental death of a young man, something his mother doesn’t accept. The young man was a member of one of the most powerful families in Barcelona and things need to be handled carefully. Hector agrees (can he do anything else?) and finds out that the boy’s mother may be right, especially when he comes across Iris.
What did I think?
I really enjoyed The Summer of Dead Toys, although I admit I wasn’t sure in the beginning. I would say for the first few chapters I found myself putting it down a fair bit. Then, something clicked and I read the second two thirds in a day or so.
Because this is a crime novel, there are some “standard” elements. Hector is another troubled policeman, estranged from his wife and hiding a childhood trauma and his investigation and that surrounding the disappearance of the suspect are seemingly nothing to do which each but, eventually, begin to intertwine.
That said, not everything is typical. For example, the main plot is built around one murder – there is no serial killer and no gratuitous violence (both of which seem obligatory in a lot of crime fiction nowadays, at least the type I seem to be reading!). I found this a refreshing change and, as a result, felt like more thought had gone into the book. I also liked the endings, neither of which I saw coming.
The story itself is a slow build. Hill takes time to fully introduce the central characters. As a result, they are well rounded and more complex than they might originally seem, especially Hector who gradually comes across as a strong, thoughtful, detective – not what you expect when he is first introduced and the reason for his suspension explained.
It is well written and it feels like each word has been carefully thought out. No sentence seems wasted. To me, it felt like the work of an accomplished writer, one I hadn’t heard of because he is Spanish and this a translation. I was surprised then, to find out it was his debut, released in the UK a couple of years ago. His second novel was published last summer and will definitely be on my “to read” list whilst this book is definitely one I’ll be recommending to others.
Note: I received this book free in return for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.