4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Takes too long to get going,
This review is from: The Summer of Dead Toys (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)Inspector Hector Salgada returns to Barcelona from his native Argentina after a month's enforced 'holiday' following an incident in which he beat up a man who was trafficking under-aged prostitutes from Africa. His boss is hoping to put the whole matter quietly to bed but the man he assaulted has now disappeared, a pig's head left on his desk. With Salgada not yet reinstated, his superintendent asks him to look unofficially into the case of a 19-year-old boy who fell from his bedroom window and whose mother is not willing to accept that it was an accident.
I wanted to like this novel. It has an interesting and attractive central character in Héctor. He's a classic outsider, being an Argentinian in Spain and he has an interesting personal life as his wife has left him 'to explore her sexuality'. Ouch! He's a passionate man, too, both in life and his job.
But, but but, I got bogged down in the story and found myself flagging about fifty pages in, reluctant to pick it up once I'd put it down. I found the plot bitty and insufficiently gripping. I did get into it in the end, about half way through, but an author can't afford to wait 150 pages to hook his reader, not these days. I found the prose a little ponderous too, but I don't know if that's down to Hill or his translator. One strand of plot peters out in the most perfunctory way.
Hill needs to decide what he's going to switch to the present tense for. The first time is for a flashback of Héctor's, which is fine, if that's what he's decided; but the next sudden switch is for something that's happening at the same time as the scene that preceded and followed it. Why change tense for that? It seems random.
I've given it three stars as it's a first novel and novelists need time to grow. The last few chapters suggest that Hill could become a fine novelist if he can only get off to a stronger start. The publisher is optimistic that this will move the focus of crime fiction from Scandinavia to Spain. I think the Swedes and Norwegians can rest easy in their Ikea beds for the moment.