THE SUMMER OF DEAD TOYS

Written by Antonio Hill

Review written by Angela Hatherell


THE SUMMER OF DEAD TOYS
Transworld
RRP: £14.99
Released: 24th May 2012
Hbk

This book has a multi-layered plot and needs concentration. The opening is a bit confusing: A fair number of characters are introduced fairly quickly with not enough explanation of their identity or their relationships.

It does become clear, however, and we learn that the Argentinian Inspector Hector Salgado has returned to Spain after a "holiday" from his police work in Barcelona. He beat up a suspect in a case of trafficking girls from Africa as prostitutes but was not dismissed. He was deeply affected by the fate of the young girls: he is sensitive and uncertain. He is not yet returned to duty, and his boss, Superintendent Savall, wants him to do some unofficial investigation into the unexplained death of Marc Castells, student son of Enric Castells, an influential businessman and politician. It is high summer in Barcelona and the heat is oppressive, adding to the tension that builds.

Here we meet a further complication: there is more than one dysfunctional family to understand. It is Marc's mother Johana, who is seeking help: Enrico Castells is re-married and has an adopted daughter: Hector is separated  from his wife, Ruth, and has a son. These relationships cause psychological problems, There are also two women  police officers with complicated family or love lives, there is Enrico's brother, Father Felix, there is Dr. Omar, the trafficker beaten up by Hector, there is the lawyer, Fernandez.. The significance of some of these characters and their place in the story become apparent much later.

 The main theme of the book is the death of Marc Castells, whose close friends, Aleix Rovira and Gina Ballester, were with him when he fell from a high window - he fell or was he pushed? Aleix is manipulative and confident; Gina is an adoring slave, and Marc? Marc is beginning to question Aleix's actions. Perhaps the two boys have fallen out, and Aleix has pushed Marc. Was there a reason for Marc to commit suicide?  

I was totally absorbed, and enjoyed the challenge of sorting the different threads of plot, and appreciated the cunning and sheer cleverness with which Antonio Hill handles his story and its characters. It was well worth a bit of effort. 

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