This is the first of the Havana quartet featuring Lieutenant Mario Conde, a tropical Marlowe. A body is found in a Havana park. A young transvestite ...Show synopsisThis is the first of the Havana quartet featuring Lieutenant Mario Conde, a tropical Marlowe. A body is found in a Havana park. A young transvestite dressed in a beautiful red evening dress, strangled. The victim had fled his family, finding refuge with Marques, an author living alone surrounded only by books, his house in ruins. In the baking heat of the Havana summer Conde investigates, moving through a Cuban reality where nothing is what it seems. Padura's masterful prose and eye for detail evoke the Havana that millions of tourists have come to know: crumbling architecture, peeling paintwork and a pulsating, searing sensuality beneath the tropical sun.Hide synopsis
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Although the novel is a mystery, it manages to be more than that. The book is a realistic view of Cuba and issues of past repression of art and sexual minorities. Padura freely vents some of his anger and contempt for past government repression, and that seems remarkable, given the view in the US that free speech doesn't exist in Cuba. It seems that today, many formerly unspoken things can be said. His most recent book, Havana Fever, however, is even better at depicting daily life and the struggles people have faced at different times, especially under the embargo and after the Soviet collapse, though neither is mentioned explicitly. In both, he shares his love of books, including old and rare books, and books about Cuban history and ecology, which adds to the delight in reading.
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