The Summer of Dead Toys

In Antonio Hill's dark debut novel, The Summer of Dead Toys, Inspector Hector Salgado is in a tricky position. Though he's Argentinian by birth, he's been on the Barcelona police force for years. He's currently on probation, though, after beating an old man, Dr. Omar, who was complicit in the trafficking (and death) of a young African girl.

In addition to his professional problems, Hector's wife, Ruth, left him (for another woman) and Dr. Omar, who is involved in voodoo, made some threats that make Hector uneasy despite his professed atheism.

Luckily, Hector's boss still supports him and has set him unofficially to look into the death of teenager Marc Castells, who fell from his bedroom window--it's unclear whether it was an accident, suicide or murder. Teamed up with young, eager Leire Castro, Hector sets out to question Marc's friends and family members unobtrusively.

The Summer of Dead Toys delves into the nature of family and the lengths that people will go to protect those they love. Hector's increasing disquiet about the disappearance of Dr. Omar mingles with the surprisingly dark aspects of Marc Castells's apparently idyllic life. Leire Castro is hiding some secrets of her own, and the emerging partnership between Leire and Hector adds a needed comforting aspect to the sad story.

Hill has done an excellent job bringing Barcelona to life and creating a tense, intriguing mystery. Fans of international thrillers will be waiting eagerly for his next book to be translated into English. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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