The Good Suicides: A Thriller

The Good Suicides: A Thriller

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by Antonio Hill

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Unrelenting hero of The Summer of Dead Toys, Inspector Hector Salgado returns in another riveting crime thriller
After a company retreat in a remote country house, senior employees of Alemany Cosmetics return with a dark secret. They’ve each received an anonymous, menacing email of only two words: “Never forget”.


Unrelenting hero of The Summer of Dead Toys, Inspector Hector Salgado returns in another riveting crime thriller
After a company retreat in a remote country house, senior employees of Alemany Cosmetics return with a dark secret. They’ve each received an anonymous, menacing email of only two words: “Never forget”. What’s worse, the message is accompanied by a nightmarish photo attachment showing the bodies of dogs—hung to death from a tree—near the very same farm estate they just visited. When they begin killing themselves, one by one, the connection between the shocking photos and the suicides baffles Barcelona law enforcement and corporate think tanks alike, threatening a terrifying end for everyone involved.
Breaking through the insular power structures of these enigmatic executives isn't easy, but Inspector Salgado has his own ways of making those still alive speak up.  As the clock is ticking before another suicide, Salgado is doing all he can to bring the terror to an end.  Meanwhile, his partner Leire, bored on her maternity leave, remains fixated on Salgado’s missing wife, Ruth.  She refuses to give up on a case many—including Salgado—fear is hopeless.
Antonio Hill deftly braids these two stories together for a richly layered and darkly chilling thriller about secrets, cover-ups, and devastating lies.    

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Haunted by personal loss (Ruth, his ex-wife, disappeared six months ago), Barcelona's Insp. Héctor Salgado remains dedicated to his work. When a suicide of a young woman employed at a boutique cosmetics company comes across his desk, he investigates. Troublingly, another of the firm's employees committed a gruesome murder-suicide a few months earlier. Holding evidence that suggests foul play, Salgado probes deeper into the company's files. The link is a photo of dead dogs sent to the employees, accompanied by a threatening note. Readers are privy to the thoughts of the remaining workers involved, enough to make them all look suspicious, and definitely enough to build a sweaty tension and unease. Salgado's team races against the clock and more information about Ruth's case comes to light, opening up disturbing possibilities. VERDICT Hill's atmospheric sophomore entry, a best seller in Spain, should make you double-check your catalog for the first title, The Summer of Dead Toys. The characters are intriguingly complex and the author skillfully pulls the rug out with a flourish at the end.
From the Publisher
Praise for The Summer of Dead Toys:
"This dark thriller is an amazing debut—acutely observed and meticulously crafted."—John Verdon, bestselling author of Let the Devil Sleep

"Penetrating, atmospheric. . . . Thoroughly compelling." —Kirkus Reviews

"Salgado's rich inner life and Hill's talents at plotting and prose bode well for a successful series." —Publishers Weekly
“Hugely impressive. . . . Hill’s book seems to have arrived fully-formed with confidence and authority, peeling back the skeins of deceit and betrayal in a most satisfying fashion.” —The Independent

“Entertaining.” —The Times

“A welcome corrective to snow-blindness from too much Nordic noir. . . . Excellent characterization, a sympathetic and engaging protagonist, and plenty of plot twists, with a cliffhanger ending that sets things up nicely for the next in the series.” —The Guardian

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For the second time in a short period, Inspector Hector Salgado turns his head suddenly, convinced someone is watching him, but he sees only anonymous and indifferent faces, people who, like him, are walking on a packed Gran Via and stop once in a while in front of one of the traditional stalls of toys and games occupying the pavement. It is January 5, the night before Reyes, though no one would think so judging by the pleasant temperature, ignored by some strollers conveniently dressed in overcoats, some even with gloves and scarf as befits the season, happy to participate in a sham of winter lacking the main ingredient: cold.

The parade has been finished for a while and the traffic fills the road under garlands of shining lights. People, cars, the smell of churros and hot oil, all seasoned with supposedly happy carols, their lyrics dipped in surrealism, which the loudspeakers launch against the passersby without the least decorum. It seems no one has bothered to compose new songs, so for yet another year there are the same fucking tidings of comfort of joy. That must be what’s fucked up about Christmas, thinks Hector: the fact that generally it always stays the same, while we change and grow older. It seems to him inconsiderate to the point of cruelty that this Christmassy atmosphere is the only thing that is repeated year after year without exception, making our decadence ever more evident. And for the umpteenth time in the last fifteen days he wishes he’d flown from all the revelry to some Buddhist or radically atheist country. Next year, he repeats, as if it were a mantra. And to hell with what his son might say.

He is so absorbed in these thoughts that he doesn’t notice that the queue of pedestrians, moving almost as slowly as that of the cars, has stopped. Hector finds himself at a halt in front of a stall selling little plastic soldiers in bags: cowboys and Indians, Allied soldiers dressed in camouflage ready to shoot from a trench. He hasn’t seen them in years and remembers buying them for Guillermo when he was a kid. In any case, the vendor, an old man with arthritic hands, has managed to re-create an exquisite military scene, down to the last detail, worthy of a 1950s film. That’s not all he sells: other soldiers, the traditional lead ones, bigger and in shiny red uniforms, march on one side, and a legion of Roman gladiators, historically out of place, on the other.

The old man gestures to him, inviting him to touch the goods, and Hector obeys, more out of manners than any real interest. The soldier is softer than he expected and the feel of it, almost like human flesh, repulses him. Suddenly he realizes that the music has ceased. The passers-by have halted. The car lights have been switched off and the Christmas lights, flickering weakly, are the street’s only lighting. Hector closes his eyes and opens them again. Around him the crowd begins to vanish; the bodies suddenly disappear, evaporate without leaving the least trace. Only the vendor remains at his stall. Wrinkled and smiling, he takes one of those snow globes out from under the counter.

“For your wife,” he says. And Hector is about to answer that no, Ruth detests those glass domes; they’ve upset her ever since she was a child, like clowns do. Then the flakes clouding the interior fall to the bottom and he sees himself, standing in front of a toy soldier stall, trapped within the glass walls.

“Papa, Papa . . .”


The television screen covered in gray snow. His son’s voice. The pain in his neck from having fallen asleep in the worst possible position. The dream had been so real on Reyes night.

“You were shouting.”

Shit. When your own son wakes you out of a nightmare the moment has come to resign as a father, thought Hector as he sat up on the sofa, sore and in bad humor.

“I fell asleep here. And what are you doing awake at this time of night?” he counterattacked.

Guillermo shrugged his shoulders without saying anything. As Ruth would have done. As Ruth had done so many times. In an automatic gesture, Hector searched for a cigarette and lit it. Cigarette butts were spilling out of the ashtray.

“Don’t worry, I won’t fall asleep here again. Go to bed. And don’t forget we’re going out early tomorrow.”

His son nodded. As he watched him walk barefoot toward his room, he thought how hard it was to act as a father without Ruth. Guillermo wasn’t yet fifteen, but at times, looking at his face, you would say he was much older. There was a premature seriousness in his features that pained Hector more than he cared to admit. He took a long drag on his cigarette and, without knowing why, pressed the button on the remote. He couldn’t even remember what he’d put on that night. With the first few images, that still black-and-white photo of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, he recognized it and remembered. Breathless. Ruth’s favorite film. He didn’t feel up to watching it again.

Approximately ten hours earlier, Hector had been contemplating the white walls of the psychologist’s practice, a space he knew well, a tad uncomfortable. As usual, the “kid” was taking his time before beginning the session and Hector still hadn’t worked out if those minutes of silence served to gauge his state of mind or if the guy was simply a slow starter. In any case, this morning, six months after his first visit, Inspector Salgado wasn’t in the mood to wait. He cleared his throat, crossed and uncrossed his legs, then finally leaned forward and said, “Would you mind if we started?”

“Of course.” And the psychologist raised his eyes from his papers, although he added nothing further.

He remained silent, interrogating the inspector with his gaze. He had an absentminded air that, combined with his youthful features, made you think of one of those child prodigies who solve complex equations at the age of six but at the same time are incapable of kicking a football without falling over. A false impression, Hector knew. The kid took few shots, certainly; however, when he fired, he was on target. In fact, the therapy sessions, which had begun as a work requirement, had become a routine, weekly at first then fortnightly, that Hector had followed of his own volition. So that morning he took a deep breath, as he’d learned, before answering.

“Really sorry. The day didn’t start off well.” He leaned back and fixed his eyes on a corner of the office. “And I don’t think it will end any better.”

“Difficulties at home?”

“You don’t have teenagers, do you?” It was an absurd question, given that his listener would have to have been a father at fifteen to have offspring of Guillermo’s age. He remained quiet for a moment to reflect, then, in a tired voice, he went on, “But it’s not that. Guillermo is a good boy. I think the problem is that he was never a problem.”

It was true. And although many fathers would be satisfied by this apparent obedience, Hector was worried by what he didn’t know; what was going on in his son’s head was a mystery. He never complained, his marks were normal, never excellent but never bad either, and his seriousness could be an example to madder, more irresponsible kids. However, Hector noticed--or rather he sensed--that there was something sad behind this absolute normality. Guillermo had always been a happy child and now, in mid-adolescence, he’d become an introverted boy whose life, when he wasn’t at school, basically passed by within the four walls of his bedroom. He spoke very little. He didn’t have many friends. All in all, thought Hector, he’s not so different from me.

“And you, Inspector? How are you? Still not sleeping?”

Hector hesitated before admitting it. It was a subject on which they couldn’t agree. After months of insomnia, the psychologist had recommended some gentle sleeping pills, which Hector refused to take. Partly because he didn’t want to become accustomed to them; partly because it was in the early hours that his mind worked at full capacity and he didn’t want to dispense with his most productive hours; partly because sleeping plunged him onto uncertain and not always pleasant ground.

The kid deduced the reasons for his silence.

“You’re wearing yourself out uselessly, Hector. And, without wanting to, you’re wearing out the people around you.”

The inspector raised his head. He rarely addressed him so directly. The kid held his gaze without turning a hair.

“You know I’m right. When you started to come to the practice we were dealing with a very different subject. A subject that was put aside after what happened to your ex-wife.” He spoke in a firm voice, without hesitation. “I understand that the situation is difficult, but becoming obsessed won’t get you anywhere.”

“You think I’m obsessed?”

“Aren’t you?”

Hector gave a faint, bitter smile.

“And what do you suggest? That I forget Ruth? That I accept that we’ll never know the truth?”

“You don’t need to accept it. Just live with it without rebelling against the world every day. Listen to me while I ask you as the police officer you are: how many cases remain unsolved for a time? How many are cleared up years later?”

“You don’t understand,” Hector replied, and took a few seconds to continue speaking. “Sometimes . . . sometimes I manage to forget it all, for a few hours, while I work or when I go out running, then it comes back. Suddenly. Like a ghost. Expectant. It’s not an unpleasant sensation, not accusing or asking, but it’s there. And it doesn’t go away easily.”

“What is it that’s there?” The question had been formulated in the same neutral tone that marked all the young therapist’s interjections, although Hector noticed, or perhaps feared, that he was picking up a particular nuance.

“Relax.” He smiled. “It’s not that sometimes I see dead people. It’s just the feeling that . . .” He paused to find the words. “When you have lived with someone for a long time, there are times that you just know they’re at home. You wake up from a siesta and you sense that the other person is there, without needing to see them. You understand? That wasn’t happening to me anymore. I mean, it never happened during the time I was separated from Ruth. Only after her . . . disappearance.”

There was a pause. The psychologist scribbled something in that notebook to which Hector had no visual access. At times he thought that those notes formed part of the theatrical ritual of a session: symbols which served only to make the interlocutor--that is, him--feel listened to. He was going to put forward his theory out loud when the other man began to speak; he spoke slowly, amiably, almost carefully.

“You know something, Inspector?” he asked. “This is the first time you have admitted, even in a roundabout way, that Ruth might be dead.”

“We Argentines are well aware what ‘disappeared’ can mean,” replied Hector. “Don’t forget that.” He cleared his throat. “Even so, we have no objective proof that Ruth is dead. But--”

“But you believe it’s so, right?”

Hector looked over his shoulder, as if he were afraid someone might hear. “That’s what fucks me over most.” He had lowered his voice, speaking more to himself. “You can’t even mourn her because you feel like a fucking traitor who threw in the towel too early.” He took a deep breath. “I beg your pardon. Christmas has never agreed with me. I thought I’d have come further with this, but . . . I had to give in. There’s nothing. I’ve found nothing. Damn it, it’s as if someone erased her from a drawing without a trace.”

“I thought the case was no longer in your hands.”

Hector smiled.

“It’s in my head.”

“Do me a favor.” That was always the prelude to the end. “From now until the next session try to concentrate, at least for a while every day, on what you have. Good or bad, but what your life is made up of; not what’s missing.”

It was almost two in the morning, and Hector knew he wouldn’t go back to sleep. He took his cigarette and cell phone and left the house to go up to the roof terrace. At least up there he wouldn’t wake Guillermo. The therapist was right in three things. One, he should start taking the damn sleeping pills, even if it annoyed him. Two, the case was no longer in his hands. And three, yes, deep down within him there was the conviction that Ruth was dead. Because of him.

It was a nice night. One of those nights that could reconcile you to the world if you let it. The coastline of the city extended before his eyes, and there was something in the bright twinkling lights of the buildings, in that dark but tranquil sea, that managed to chase off the demons Hector carried within him. Standing there, surrounded by planters with dry plants, Inspector Salgado asked himself, with complete honesty, what he had.

Guillermo. His work as an inspector in Catalonia’s police force, the Mossos, simultaneously intense and frustrating. A brain that seemed to function correctly and lungs that must be half black by now. Carmen, his neighbor, his landlady; his Barcelona mother, as she said. This roof terrace from which he could see the sea. An annoying therapist who made him think about bullshit at three in the morning. Few friends, but good ones. An immense collection of films. A body capable of running six kilometers three times a week (despite lungs worn out by the damned tobacco). What else did he have? Nightmares. Memories with Ruth. The void without Ruth. Not knowing what had happened to her was a betrayal of everything that mattered to him: his promises from another time, his son, even his work. This rented apartment where they had both lived, loved and fought; the apartment she had left to begin a new life in which he was only a supporting actor. Even so, she loved him. They continued loving each other, but in another way. He was learning to live with all this when Ruth disappeared, vanished, leaving him alone with the feelings of guilt against which he rebelled every minute.

Enough, he told himself. I’m like the protagonist of a French film: fortysomething, self-pitying. Mediocre. One of those that spends ten minutes looking at the sea from a cliff, plagued by existential questions, only then to fall in love like an idiot with an adolescent ankle. And just after this reflection he remembered the last chat, more accurately an argument, he’d had with his colleague, Sergeant Martina Andreu, just before Christmas. The reason for the dispute was incredibly petty, but neither of the two seemed capable of putting an end to it. Until she looked at him with that insulting frankness and, without a second thought, fired point-blank: “Hector, really, how long has it been since you had a fuck?”

Before his pathetic response could reverberate in his head, his cell phone rang.

Meet the Author

ANTONIO HILL lives in Barcelona. He is a professional translator of English-language fiction into Spanish.

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The Good Suicides 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
ABookishGirlBlog More than 1 year ago
Scary looking dog on the cover freaked me out every time my eyes happened to fall upon it. Talk about how a book's cover can affect  how you feel about the book and this one sets a menacing tone to go along with the inside contents, yes I was actually freaked about what was going to be inside before I even opened the book up. Aaahh, the power of a book's cover! Okay so onto The Good Suicides... The book picks up almost a year after the end of the last book in this series, The Summer of Dead Toys, and follows two different storylines; one of the stories revolves around Inspector Salgado and the batches of suicides he is investigating and the other story revolves around Leire, who was Inspector Salgado's partner in the last book but who is now on maternity leave and who is on her own time secretly investigating the disappearance of Ruth, Salgado's ex-wife, which happened at the end of the last book. Sorry about that spoiler if you haven't read the first book in the series yet! I made that bold so maybe if you don't want a surprise about the first one yet because you haven't read it then maybe you could just skip this part entirely! So Leire is very pregnant and is putting herself and her unborn child at a great risk by investigating Ruth's disappearance but she feels so compelled to do it she can't seem to talk herself out of it even though she knows deep down it would be better for her just to let it go and rest as much as possible before the baby is born. She finds out quite a lot of things about Ruth that Salgado probably doesn't even know and some of these secrets are not so good, like why would Ruth be seen on a videotape visiting the man that her ex-husband beat the crap out of and nearly lost his job who then wound up murder and decomposing in the apartment under Salgado's apartment in order to implicate that Salgado had something to do with said evil man's death? Very, very interesting! So now that I covered Leire's part of the story here is Inspector Salgado's part... The Alemany Cosmetics company's employees seem to be having a bit of bad luck lately, one went nuts  and killed his wife, daughter and then himself; then another employee either jumped or was pushed on to some train tracks; then another was fed sleeping pills until she slept the eternal sleep. Seemingly random incidents but when you start compiling a list of all that these three have in common you have one weird "how it all happened". Just like with Antonio Hill's first book in this series I was blown away at the originality that his stories possess it is truly unlike any other books you will read in this genre. I didn't figure it out until Inspector Salgado's investigative efforts were laid out upon the page, which if you read a lot of my reviews you will see me complain that I know who did it before the solution is actually confirmed by the author and this is one thing that lowers my opinion of books like this but luckily the type of mystery Antonio Hill writes raises my opinion of his writing! A must read if you love an unconventional mystery/thriller!
BasingstoneBook More than 1 year ago
What could happen on a team / motivation week away for employees of Alemany Cosmetics at a remote country house? This is what Inspector Salgado of Barcelona has to unravel whilst trying to control his emotions stirred up by the disappearance of his wife Ruth. The suicide of an employee and his killing of his wife and child may be connected, or is it? This is a good story but you have to be patient, it is a very slow burner. Partly necessary, the early chapters are filled with background to the characters including that of Inspector Salgado.You are always wondering what has actually happened and why the picture of strangled dogs hanging from a tree is so important. The author Antonio Hill refuses to give any real clues other than a few crumbs, which doesn't give you any chance of understanding what happened until it is revealed. Is it to do with the cosmetics industry and vivisection protest groups, is a the company a depressing place to work - sorry but you have to wait. This is the second book in the series and I have rated it with 3 stars, but if it had been a little faster paced it would certainly deserve 4 stars.
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
Barcelona is the setting for this second Inspector Hector Salgado mystery. Though his wife went missing in book one, the police force seems to have given up the search for her. But, Salgado's policewoman partner, Leire, is bored while awaiting the birth of her child, so she secretly takes up the search again.  Meanwhile, Salgado has gotten a strange case to solve . Two people who went on an Alemany Cosmetics Company retreat have committed suicide for no apparent reason. They both received a strange text and a picture of three dogs who were found hanging from a tree on the retreat. Neither leaves a suicide note. Salgado doesn't believe that all the facts really add up and wants to further investigate.  This intriguing mystery revolves around these two mysteries and is told in rotating sections about the different main characters. Though the mystery kept me enthralled throughout the book, I felt that reading the first book-SUMMER OF THE DEAD TOYS--would have added a lot to the story. And the ending left part of the story unsolved, apparently leaving a "teaser" for book three. This was a bit disconcerting for me. I did thoroughly enjoy the mystery of the suicides and how the author came to call them "good". Throughout the book, I suspected a number of scenarios, but was totally surprised by the solution. Salgado's character was compelling, and the relationships between everyone made me want to learn more and more. I would definitely read more by this author, but I recommend reading this series in order for best enjoyment!