In Spanish author Hill’s The Good Suicides , Insp. Hector Salgado must discover why the employees of Almany Cosmetics are killing themselves, one by one.
How did the idea for a company full of suicides come about?
While I was writing The Summer of Dead Toys [the first book in the series], I read about a French company, France Télécom, whose employees had an unusual suicide rate—it was so high that even Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, became involved. I started wondering why multiple people in a company would commit suicide, and what would happen within the company itself once the suicides began. The idea stuck in my mind, and made me decide to place the next novel in a corporate environment.
Was there any particular reason you chose a cosmetics company as the site of the suicides?
Yes, it played a sort of symbolic role: cosmetics help us hide the truth. The idea of a cosmetics company also reflected a vision of Barcelona. Everyone who comes to the city sees it as beautiful, but there is a careful “makeup” for the things that are not so nice.Where did you get the idea to have Hector’s colleague Leire Castro investigate the disappearance of the inspector’s wife, Ruth?
The idea came quite naturally. Hector Salgado’s wife, Ruth, disappeared at the end of The Summer of Dead Toys, and I wanted to keep that story going and see the characters trying to solve the mystery. But given Hector’s relationship with Ruth, he had to be out of the investigation. And since Leire was pregnant, I thought she could use her prematernity leave to do her own research.
There are several untraditional relationships in the novel: Hector as a single parent; Leire and Tomas as coparents; and, of course, the queer couples. Was this level of diversity deliberate?
Yes and no. Classic noirs in the 1950s portrayed the classic male-female relationship, with the woman as the femme fatale. Today, you look around Barcelona and you see gay couples, single parents, people whose sexuality escapes the conventional. Even men like César, who are attracted to teenagers like Emma. Our world is full of diversity, and I wanted to reflect that within the novel.
What can we expect to see next from Hector and Leire?
I am about to finish the third novel of the series, and the mystery of Ruth’s disappearance will be completely solved. It is not an end of the series, but it is an end to that mystery.