Havana Fever - Leonardo Padura
HAVANA, 2003. It is 14 years since Mario Conde retired from the police force and much has changed in Cuba. He now makes a living, just, trading in antique books bought from families selling off their libraries in order to survive. In the house of Alcide
HAVANA, 2003. It is 14 years since Mario Conde retired from the police force and much has changed in Cuba.
He now makes a living, just, trading in antique books bought from families selling off their libraries in order to survive.
In the house of Alcides de Montes de Oca, a rich Cuban who fled after the fall of Batista, Conde discovers an extraordinary book collection and a newspaper article about Violeta del Rio, a beautiful bolero singer of the 1950s, who disappeared mysteriously.
Conde's intuition sets him off on an investigation that leads him into a darker Cuba, now flooded with dollars, populated by pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and other hunters of the night.
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Havana Fever (�8.99, Bitter Lemon) is the fifth, and undoubtedly the best, of Leonardo Padura's noir thrillers about book-loving Conde, "The Count", and his friends.
He revels in the squalid struggle to survive in the Cuban capital following the collapse of the Soviet Union and therefore the withdrawal of its economic support for a country cut off by the US embargo.
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Padura also looks back to pre-revolution Cuba, evoking the Havana of Batista, the city of a hundred nightclubs where Hollywood stars and Mafia dons listened to boleros, mambos and jazz.
As with his previous four Conde novels, Padura is a master at bringing the tropical island to life - the sweltering heat, the rhythms of its music, and the poverty among the once grand villas.
This is a suspenseful crime novel, a cruel family saga and an ode to literature and his beloved, ravaged island.
- LINDSAY JONES