The Summer of Dead Toys by Toni Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When reading a work in translation there's always the question of "did the translator do a good job of conveying the author's original meaning?" In this case, the answer is an emphatic "yes" because the author is the translator. A few things were a little unclear (a derogatory term not familiar to non-Spanish speakers, the festival of San Juan) but beyond that... This is the second in the Salgado series, but for some reason seems to be the first in translation. It doesn't matter, in that many of the events of the first are referred to in large expository passages (the reason for the four stars, as some of that could have been glossed over; on the other hand, it may have been inserted because the first book hasn't been made available to American audiences) - and those events do matter!
There are two threads here, one that remains unresolved at the end and, I'm guessing, will play a role in the next books. That thread is the carry-over, involving Hector's brutal beating of an African doctor suspected of involvement in a child-trafficking ring that brought young African girls to Spain for sexual slavery and kept them quiet via voodoo. Hector's back from a "vacation" in Argentina, and while not suspended he's certainly being asked to keep his head down. So he's assigned what should be a quick query into the suicide/accidental death of a young man on San Juan. As readers of mysteries all know, those "just take a quick look... it's only to pacify a member of the family but it's an open/shut case" are never as easy as promised. Hence the reference to a long-ago summer, one that ended with dead toys.
Never having been to Barcelona, this was a great way to be introduced to the city. Hill captures the atmosphere well, even as some of the phrases referring to the summer heat and humidity got repetitive. Hector Salgado is definitely a detective I'll want to spend more time with.
ARC provided by publisher.