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BookBrowse Reviews Havana Fever by Leonardo Padura

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Havana Fever

by Leonardo Padura

Havana Fever
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  • Paperback:
    May 2009, 285 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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A suspenseful crime novel, a cruel family saga and an ode to literature and the ravaged island of Cuba

Leonardo Padura's latest novel, Havana Fever, is a cold-case investigation into the disappearance of a beautiful bolero singer forty-seven years prior to current events. Padura does a wonderful job of crafting the mystery. Clues are revealed gradually, building suspense and ultimately leading the reader to its dark but satisfying conclusion. Purely as a mystery novel, Havana Fever is top-notch and a terrific example of modern noir.

The real highlight of the book, though, is Padura's rich and evocative writing style. He brilliantly conjures up both the smoky nightclubs of Batista's Havana in the 1950s and the city's present poverty, comparing and contrasting the two different eras. Both are dark, gritty and rife with corruption. The modern scenes in particular are cloaked in an oppressive, unrelenting gloom that doesn't begin to lift until the book's final pages. ...

About the Author
Leonardo Padura was born in 1955 in Havana and lives in Cuba. He has published a number of short-story collections and literary essays but international fame came with the Havana Quartet, all featuring Inspector Mario Conde. Like many others of his generation, Padura had faced the question of leaving Cuba, particularly in the late 80s and early 90s, when living conditions deteriorated sharply as Russian aid evaporated. He chose to stay. And to write beautiful ironic novels in which Soviet-style socialism is condemned by implication through scenes of Havana life where even the police are savagely policed. The crime novels feed on the noises and smells of Havana, on the ability of its inhabitants to keep joking, to make love and music, to drink rum, and to survive through petty crime such as running clandestine bars and restaurants.

Padura's ...

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