Charming those in high society London is a full-time job for William Hoffer. The sociable recluse offers advice on art and makes sure he knows the right people at the right time, including a billionaire Russian who wants advice on matters a little shadier than just art.
But when a young girl turns up on his doorstep, seeking his help, the past that William has tried so hard to bury surfaces. His connections with the Mexican drug trade, his Western origins – everything William has been hiding from those he relies on.
To ensure his future, William must confront his past.
Author: Tim Glencross
Publisher: John Murray Press
This book grew on me. The first few pages left me a baffled: a lot of characters were introduced and both the dialogue and the scenes felt like they jumped around with no clear direction.
I’ll be honest – I had no idea what was going on!
But the story unravels to be a tale of mystery and intrigue: who exactly is Hoffer and what happened in his past? Why does he live in London when he is from somewhere else? We get hints and teasing snippets throughout – his connection with Mexico, his banishment from America, his dealings with Russian billionaires who can whisk people away to different countries on a whim. The reader is never given the whole story, but I warmed to Hoffer’s character as the story progresses.
Hoffer is a liar with a shady past, prepared to commit crimes – even murder – to protect himself. But he isn’t callous or cruel and his need for financial stability and just to survive are traits most readers can relate to – even if not to the same extent.
Hoffer lives in a bubble – he is antisociably sociable. But he doesn’t use email or mobiles. That alongside the London high society made this novel very difficult to place in time. It was only a reference to skype that implied it was modern times rather than back in the 60’s. To read an entire novel and get no clear reference point of the time is really disconcerting! Do we still have the high society in today’s culture that Hoffer was mingling with?
The majority of the characters are likeable enough, even if they are superfluous. But none of them, not even Hoffer himself, are given any true depth. I never understood why the `bad guy` scared Hoffer so badly, which made him appear less of a threat than he was supposed to be. There needed to be more character development.
Nonetheless, Hoffer is a short and enjoyable tale that did keep me turning the pages. There are a few unexpected twists along the way (including an unusual use for an umbrella!) that kept me gripped. An enjoyable enough read that needs a little tightening up in places.