Profiles in Character: Inspector Héctor Salgado

Weekly Lizard

Inspector Héctor Salgado isn’t the type to pour his heart out in interviews. So, what do you do when you can’t get a tough guy to talk? You turn to the people who know him best…and you listen carefully. Get to know the inspector in this exclusive character profile from author Antonio Hill, and then satisfy your craving for more in The Summer of Dead Toys.

Like most people, inspector Héctor Salgado does not know what to say when you ask him to describe himself. He looks at you, with a slightly ironic gaze that somehow seems to mean, “If I knew that, I would be glad to tell you,” and then he offers you some basic biographical facts. Forty-three years old, born in Buenos Aires but moved to Barcelona to live with some relatives when he was nineteen, member of the Catalan Police Force for quite a long time. Then there is a moment of silence. You smile, to make him feel comfortable, to encourage him to open up and reveal something else about himself, but the trick does not work. However, in a kind tone of voice, he recommends that you visit his colleagues, his friends, his family. “They know me better than I do.” You nod and do what you are told because, in a firm and polite way, Héctor has put an end to the interview. A few days later you have talked to the people on his team, to his ex-wife, to his landlady, and this is what they have told you:

Subinspector Martina Andreu, CPF: “Are you a journalist? Oh, I see, you vultures never forget, do you? Héctor lost his temper once, so now you will always think he is a violent man, a cop who beat up a suspect during an investigation. Well, let me tell you something—and you can write it down and learn it by heart: I would put my life in his hands without a doubt.”

Ruth (ex-wife): “He is a good man. And he was so handsome when we met. He still is, but back then he looked so alone in Barcelona. He was living with some relatives, did not know anyone in the city, and he looked so…lost. And there was something sad in his eyes, something that made you want to hug him and take him home. He is sensitive, clever; and now, while he is not my husband anymore, he is still the best friend I have.”

Carmen (landlady): “Héctor needs a woman by his side, he needs his wife. Oh, I have nothing to say against Ruth, I really liked her when they were a family. I’d never thought they would divorce, that she would leave him to live with another woman. I know Héctor misses her. He won’t say it, but I know. He smokes too much, he has not been sleeping well or eating properly since she went away. He spends hours watching movies, all sorts of movies. He has a huge collection of DVDs, did you know that? You’d be amazed to see it.”

Agent Leire Castro, CPF: “I don’t know him that well as I just joined the team, but I’ll tell you something he said to me during one of our first conversations. We were talking about how hard it is sometimes to gather evidence and convict bad guys, and he said something like, ‘of course, the system is not perfect, but I am sure victims feel relieved when the truth comes up. And that is what a good cop must always search for: the one and only truth.’ ”