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MURDER IN HAVANA: A Capital Crimes Novel

Margaret Truman, Author . Random $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-375-50070-1

In her 18th Capital Crimes mystery, Truman relegates frequent star Mackensie to a supporting role as ex-CIA agent Max Pauling (featured in Murder in Foggy Bottom) takes center stage. Washington, D.C., also plays a supporting role, as Havana, Cuba, becomes the focus and capital crime site of this pedestrian spy-story-cum-political diatribe. The status of Cuban-American relations, the rule of Castro and living conditions in Cuba replace the usual D.C. intrigues. The author indulges in a lot of Castro-bashing, reserving her praise only for the Cuban government's medical care and research that also is at the heart of Pauling's errand. Pauling, a maverick who has found profitable work as a freelance pilot, gets talked into a supposedly quick and easy job in Cuba. A German pharmaceutical company is trying to buy into Cuba's remarkably advanced cancer research. Pauling's job is to find proof that the German firm is acting as a front for an American company. In traditional spy novel fashion, just about everything that could go wrong does, and Pauling must use his wits, skills and luck to avoid the pitfalls caused by the dealings and double-dealings of various factions. Truman paints a bizarre picture of a Cuba where the people are poor, happy and healthy, and spy on one another with gusto while living in constant fear of Castro and his minions. The author's core fans will welcome this new outing, but she won't win new converts with this effort. Agent, Ted Chichak.(Aug. 7)

Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
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