William Hoffer is good company. He is an American, passes as a Brit, in his early 50s, delightful, clever and cultured. He lives in Onslow Square, Kensington and he mixes with quite a few members of the haute establishment. He is not rich, just well-connected.
Oh, and he also knows a few people in the Mexican drug cartels, and works for Nikolai, a rich, shady Russian – who bugs his flat to keep tabs on him.
Goodness – for such a nice chap, he really does have a hinterland. So William Hoffer makes for an enjoyably enigmatic protagonist, particularly when events take a nasty turn in this engaging thriller.
Returning to his flat, Hoffer finds Diana, the beautiful but dead teenage daughter of an old Mexican contact. He is also running short of funds, his Russian backer is suddenly on radio silence and Hoffer senses that ghosts from his past are in town.
The set-up is good and sweeps us along. Author Tim Glencross, whose first novel Barbarians was well received, is surefooted in depicting a lavish world of wealthy hustlers moving in elite circles. However, the plot never changes gear sufficiently to really have the reader on the edge of their seat. The book’s jacket rashly namechecks Patricia Highsmith, among others, but Hoffer never reaches her level of psychological menace.
William Hoffer’s air of mystery and aloofness is often commented on by his acquaintances. Meanwhile, on the page perhaps he emerges as too glossy and too passionless to make devoted friends, of the rest of us.