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Reviews for Havana Black by Leonardo Padura

'HAVANA BLACK, the sequel to the superb HAVANA RED, is an excellent Cuban police procedural that provides readers with a terrific investigation while guiding the audience around Havana three decades after the Communist revolution. The case is top rate as it provides insight into the Florida exile community, the impoverish masses left behind on the island, and the Party hacks. Few writers can paint a picture of optimism and pessimism with the same stroke as Leonard Padura does through his hero. The Two colorful Havana tales are winners worth reading unless you are an exile or a Fidel-phile.'

- Harriet Klausner

'Well-plotted second volume of Padura's seething, steamy Havana Quartet. Padura grounds his tale against a background of governmental corruption, the broken promises of the Cuban revolution and the difficult relations between those Cubans who fled the Castro regime and those who stayed. This densely packed mystery's unusual locale should definitely attract readers outside the genre.'

- Publishers Weekly

'This gripping detective story gives a flavour of the real Cuba which tourists seldom see. Padura evokes the disillusionment of a generation which embraced Castro's 1959 revolution but now struggles to survive in a decaying city. A eulogy to Cuba, its music and sensuality - and to those who chose to stay and fight for survival.'

- The Oxford Times

'Talk about unexpected discoveries, the Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura's Havana Black (Bitter Lemon Press), part of a tetralogy coming out in English in apparently random order, is a revelation. Trafficking in political incorrectness of the euphemistic and not-so-euphemistic sort, Padura is unabashedly sensual about everything from food, women, death, and weather to ideological disillusionment. He wastes no time with the literary peekaboo of magical realism, nor with the aesthetic excess of more-overt political metaphor-two modes sometimes favored by those writing in or about precarious social climates. (The former requires a coyness Padura seems congenitally deficient in, and the latter a dogmatic earnestness he's probably had his fill of.) Which is to say that this is simply a lush, frank, captivating murder mystery set against the backdrop of an approaching hurricane and the crumbling dreams of an entire generation of Cubans, at home and in exile. With a nod to Key Largo and a virtual bow to The Maltese Falcon, this novel is ultimately about the redemptive nature of undying friendship and the potentially destructive nature of undying love. Perhaps most bracing is the open struggle its hero wages against his own well-earned cynicism.'

- Atlantic Monthly

'Celebration of another wonderful capital here as Leonardo Padura immerses his readers in his latest thriller set in Havana. According to other sources he is fast gaining a reputation to rival that of thriller writers Martin Cruz Smith and Robert Harris. Everything expected of a thriller here - pace, mystery, violence and corruption. What makes the book beautiful for this reader is the music, colours, sensuality of the country and of its people.'

- The Sunday Tribune (Eire)

'Finally, Cuban writer Leonardo Padura has just toured Britain as part of Bloody Foreigners, a celebration of international crime writing. He proved to be highly intelligent and articulate. His Havana Quartet - Havana Black is the second to be published here - has the literary tag but, perhaps because of his articulacy, he spends a long time on stylistic flourishes and many a nice turn of phrase which, frankly, slow things down. That said, Havana Black, featuring the phlegmatic, moral, decent Lieutenant Mario Conde remains an absorbing read. Forget that this is a crime novel and sink into the Havana he describes: the crumbling, grand buildings, the secrets hidden behind faded doors and the corruption. For an author who lives in Castro's Cuba, Padura is remarkably outspoken about the failings of the socio-political experiment that Castro put in place. This rich setting and the novel's striking central character make Padura, if not thrilling, still a good read.'

- The Observer

'The Hammett of Havana .His award-winning crime novels feature transvestites, crooked officials and moralising newsreaders. For some critics, it's too dark a picture of Cuba. But, Leonardo Padura tells Duncan Campbell, his work reflects the reality of his country. Mario Conde is Cuba's best-known cop. A hard-boiled, hard-drinking, rule-breaking, loose-living police lieutenant who views the world around him through a hungover haze of cynicism and rum, he is no revolutionary role model. The Havana he inhabits, with its nervous transvestites, corrupt ex-officials and moralising newsreaders, is a rough old place. But the cop and his city have no shortage of admirers.'

- The Guardian

'This is invigorating stuff; assiduously detailed crime writing that makes so much in the field seem parochial and unambitious.'

- The Good Book Guide

'The fascination of Peter Bush's translation of HAVANA BLACK, the second book in Leonardo Padura's Havana series to be published in English, is the vitality of the Cuban setting. Although Lt. Mario Conde, known on the street as "the Count," is prone to metaphysical reflection on the history of his melancholy land, the city of Havana keeps bursting through his meditations, looking very much alive.'

- The New York Times

'The unravelling of this story, which reaches far back into Cuba's history, is overlaid with a rich smoky patina, an atmosphere that wreaks of slums and riches, cigar smoke and exotic perfumes. Fuelling it all, one senses Padura's rage at a succession of betrayals; by the capitalist exploiters who jumped ship when the communists came; by the corrupt comrades, among who survived the luxury and corruption of the bourgeoisie; by the naked greed of the exiles in Miami. Padura is one of a lost Cuban generation: brought up with the optimism of the revolution yet enraged by the wretched poverty of fellow islanders. This is a strong tasting book, a rich feast of wit and feeling.'

- The Independent

'Havana Black, by Leonardo Padura, the second Lieutenant Mario Conde novel to be translated into English-by Peter Bush-is more complex than the usual crime story set in an exotic location.

Padura is intent on telling us a great deal about Cuban life, politics, society, culture and recent history, which he does with elegance and charm. There is a tendency to wordiness but don't be put off. The extra effort is worth it. Conde is a splendidly flawed character, macho and sensitive, a lover of music and literature, disenchanted with his homeland yet wholly committed to it. In Havana Black he investigates the brutal battering of a man who was once responsible for confiscating art works owned by rich Cubans who opposed the revolution. " The Times

"At the beginning of Havana Black, the second of Leonardo Padura's novels featuring Lieutenant Mario Conde, we learn that his hero has decided to resign from the Havana Police, which isn't good news for fans of this engagingly unconventional detective. Conde's boss asks him to stay for a few more days, to investigate a murder which could be politically embarrassing. Years earlier the victim was responsible for confiscating art works from wealthy people fleeing the revolution, before defecting to the USA. Conde's unorthodox style of investigation uncovers the motive for the crime in the island's colourful history, but it also shows us much about today's Cuba, a society struggling to survive in post-revolution decay and disillusion. Conde is counting the days till his retirement, and contemplating the book he wants to write. If it's as good as Padura's, it would be well worth reading.'

- Sunday Telegraph

'It's a good story though Padura's not altogether direct writing style sometimes frustrates, sometimes delights. And the poverty, dilapidation and heat of Cuba come through in every page.'

- Coventry Evening Telegraph

'A great plot, perfectly executed with huge atmosphere. You can almost smell the cigar smoke, rum and cheap women.'

- Daily Mirror
'Overlaid with a rich smoky patina, an atmosphere that reeks of slums and riches, cigar smoke and exotic perfumes.' - Independent
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