Author of over a dozen nonfiction books that focus on Colombia, Castro Caycedo has written extensively about contemporary Colombian society, covering topics such as guerrillas, narco-traffickers, witches, immigration, and more. He is a popular writer with several classics to his name, including El hueco (The Hole, Planeta, 1988), but this departure to fiction is a disappointment. This historical novel revolves around the true story of the construction of a Russian submarine, presumably for drug transportation, in the Colombian countryside. The elements of the story line-social climbing, secret dealings, drug barons, bodyguards, cadavers, politicians, beautiful women, and international drug trafficking-are intriguing. But the novel, which takes place in a variety of settings, from the Russian snowbanks to the South American tropics, is confusing from the start. Characters, including Candelaria herself, are never brought to life. So much takes place, yet there is nothing to hold onto. Castro Caycedo should stick to nonfiction, where he excels. Not recommended. Tatiana de la Tierra, SUNY at Buffalo Lib.