Book Review: Havana Gold

As gritty as the Lenten winds that sweep across Cuba every spring, this detective story finds Police Lieutenant Mario Conde investigating the death of twenty-four year old Lissette Delgado. The teacher, apparently well liked by her students had been beaten, raped and strangled in her apartment. Conde immediately begins wondering how Lissette was able to afford the obviously expensive clothes found in her closet. Although Conde finds himself pressured to quickly wrap up the case, several factors continue to plague him, not the least being the discovery of pot in Lissette’s apartment and the possible role some of her students may have played in her life and subsequent murder.

Throughout the investigation, Conde follows his desire for love with a romantic affair with the beautiful if enigmatic Karina. Not only is Karina intelligent, she plays the saxophone with a flare, loves jazz and shares his passion for fighting fish. Unfortunately, Karina also has secrets, one of which will throw Conde for a loop and leave him alone once again. Can he unravel the tangle of drugs, sex, black market trade and stolen goods before rivals within the department get him thrown off the force and how far into the rum bottle will he crawl when the truth about Karina is revealed.

A stark, uncompromising look at Cuban life with its corruption and crumbling infrastructure alongside great beauty and zest, this is a different take on the murder mystery genre. Conde makes a likeable if irascible character, defined largely by his enduring friendships and dry humor in the face of hardship. The tight, descriptive storyline draws readers into Havana’s heat, dirt and incessant spring winds making for a respectable read that will likely win more fans of the series.

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