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The Summer of Dead Toys    by Antonio Hill order for
Summer of Dead Toys
by Antonio Hill
Order:  USA  Can
Broadway, 2014 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Originally published in Spain, this first-time effort lives up to its subtitle: A Thriller. The author, a professional translator of English-language fiction into Spanish, has created a very interesting puzzle for us to follow. If, for you, the mark of a good mystery is how well it keeps you guessing and whether you are truly surprised at the ending, then this is the story that will satisfy.

A routine accidental death of a teenager in Barcelona turns out to be more than it seems. Inspector Salgado, who is trying to stay in his employer's good graces after losing his temper rather violently, must take on this pretty boring assignment and complete the investigation quickly so that the victim's mother, a friend of Salgado's employer, will leave the employer alone. But as Salgado makes his way through the upper and lower reaches of society to piece together what really happened to Marc and why his friends are lying about it, past secrets, potentially damaging to key figures in the investigation, come to light. At the same time the mistakes of Salgado's past become a part of the investigation as well.

Of particular interest in the story are Salgado's fellow investigators, both of them women with stories of their own. They are true professionals but do not take a by-the-book approach. Martina remains convinced of Salgado's honesty even when it is questioned, and Leire, even though very new, takes on complex parts of the investigation sometimes even without being told. Their presence in the story gives it a texture beyond the usual detective plot.

Finally, the author's ability to write a paragraph about a character without mentioning who the character is until the very end is not only pretty distinctive, it makes us pay good attention, always at important junctures.

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