Hoffer by Tim Glencross

The Blurb On The Back:

“Beside the sofa was a pooled form.  I’d seen dead bodies before, but there was something different about finding one in my Kensington flat, lazily covered by an old Liberty throw I’d had for years.

Though hardly in the mood, I decided not to cancel my appointment with Roland Turner at the Whig Club.”

William Hoffer – handsome, refined, a little cold perhaps – is an established figure in London society.

But Hoffer has secrets.  He is vague about his Midwestern origins.  The counsel he offers a Russian billionaire may extend to murkier topics than art investments.  Then there is the question of his money, which is running out.

When a ghost from his past in Mexico returns, so do Hoffer’s brutal instincts for self-preservation … 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

51-year-old William Hoffer is an American-born social fixer who moves amongst London’s wealthy dilettante classes, making a living by connecting rich people with other rich people for legitimate and illegitimate business purposes.  But business has been slow recently and Hoffer’s penchant for extravagant purchases and need to be seen at the best restaurants and bars have left his finances perilous.

The last thing he needs is for 17-year-old Diana Dominguez Saavedra to turn up suddenly in his flat.  Hoffer knew her father, Rafael, back when his fixing days involved the drug cartels and Diana thinks that he can help her now that Rafael has gone missing, unleashing a series of events that threatens everything that Hoffer has worked to build …

Tim Glencross’s literary thriller is a dull, superficial affair with unsympathetic and thinly drawn characters, little action and an obsession with wealth and high culture that left me bored until the sorry end.  The main problem, for me, was Hoffer himself.  He’s a self-made wannabe member of the London elite, trading on the basis of a mysterious past (so mysterious that Glencross doesn’t bother filling it all in).  He’s supposed to be charming and dangerous but he’s actually pretentious and dull with an inability and unwillingness to form meaningful relationships and an apathy as to what happens to others rather than being ruthless as to their fate.  The main female character, Antonia (queen bee of the social scene who’s so thinly drawn as to be a cypher) lacks chemistry with Hoffer, Diana is a plot device and the dilettantes are all interchangeable.  Nor is there enough about Hoffer’s past to justify his suddenly becoming a target (in particular I wanted more information about why cartoon Mexican villain Hector is so interested in him).

Pacing is also a big issue.  There are many scenes where little happens.  Hoffer has conversations with people, goes to art galleries and exclusive events and … that’s about it.  There’s no real tension, the antagonists are as thinly drawn as the protagonists and I found the depictions of wealthy society to be rather dull and uninspiring.  Even the social competition between people desperate to stay in rather than be thrown out of their exclusive circles lacked bite or stakes.  Ultimately there just wasn’t enough here to hold my attention and I’m not sure I’d check out Glencross’s other work on the basis of this book.

HOFFER will be released in the United Kingdom on 23rd March 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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