Monday, December 3, 2012

Staff Pick - The Crimes of Hector Tomás by Ian Colford

The novel The Crimes of Hector Tomás (M) by Ian Colford grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go until it was done with me. It was wild ride, one that both attracted me and slightly repulsed me. It is both touching and brutal, emotionally engaging and coldly detached, and certainly a little outside my usual comfort zone.

It presents the story of a 1960's middle class family in an unnamed South American country whose fates and fortunes suffer under a brutally paranoid military regime. The titular teenage Hector Tomas is a middle son who suffers emotionally at hands of a disinterested father. Hector creates some trouble and as a result is shipped away from his immediate family. During his quest to return home he gets inadvertently caught up in the chaos of a rebellion.

For my reading tastes, the pacing of the story was near perfect, keeping my attention simmering along until it reached a final boil. The cast of characters were also a real highlight for me. For the most part they had my total sympathy and concern. I still feel bad about what happened to Hector. An exception to my sympathy was for Hector's father, Enrique, whose selfishness and loathsome sexuality made him difficult to like. But even so, at times I also felt badly for Enrique as well. This is a story where everybody loses.

The novel contains a lot of disturbing torture scenes which I found rather difficult to endure. I almost stopped reading a couple times. But I couldn't stop.  I had to keep going.  A combination of adrenaline and concern for Hector and Nadia propelled me to the end.

Providing you can handle the brutal violence, I heartily suggest that you add The Crimes of Hector Tomás to your reading list.

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