In frigid Barcelona, senior members of a cosmetics company are dying by what appears to be suicide, each having received an email warning accompanied by a disturbing photo of dead dogs hanging from a tree.
Inspector Héctor Salgado is still reeling from the events in Hill's terrific debut, The Summer of Dead Toys (2013), in which his strong-willed wife, Ruth, left him for a woman and then disappeared. An Argentinian who recently relocated to Spain, he's smoking too much and sleeping too little. The suicides, including that of a young Austrian woman who leaped in front of a train, followed a company retreat in a house deep in the woods. That's where the dogs met their sad fate. While Salgado investigates the deaths, Leire Castro, a pregnant young cop on maternity leave "due to some rogue early contractions," takes it on herself to look into Ruth's disappearance. She's convinced that Salgado is too close to the case to conduct a careful investigation. She revisits his violent confrontation with a doctor involved in a trafficking scheme and befriends his likable 14-year-old son, Guillermo. This book isn't as gripping or thematically rich as its predecessor; Hill follows the multiple-suspect Agatha Christie model a bit too closely. But his gallery of characters is exceptionally well-drawn—Salgado is one of the more appealing world-weary police detectives in crime fiction—and Barcelona (where the author lives) provides a fresh backdrop for the action.
Another strong effort by the Spanish novelist, who again sets us up for the next installment of the series with a tantalizing ending.