Jose LaTour, Author . Grove $23 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1754-0

Cuban-born Latour's eighth book, the third novel he's written in English, pits Cuban crooks against an American crime boss in bustling, pre-Communist Havana. It's 1958, and Meyer Lansky is looking to make a killing—not just from his casino, but from all the betting on the World Series between the Yankees and the Milwaukee Braves. But mobsters Joe Bonanno and Joseph Profaci, Meyer's New York–based rivals, want a piece of the action, so they assemble a home team of criminals to rob Lansky's casino on the last night of the series. Led by Mariano "Ox" Contreras (so-called for the first thing he ever stole), they're a lively gang of smalltime swindlers, including "Wheel" Fermin, a short, balding and surprisingly prudish car thief, Arturo Heller, a smooth ex-law student, and Willy Pi, a former prostitute and cork bark collector who works at Lansky's Casino de Capri. Their heist—despite having to begin two hours ahead of schedule owing to the death of Pope Pius XII, in whose honor the casino plans to close early—goes very well. But it doesn't go perfectly , which gives the Bureau of Investigations, in the person of Col. Orlando Grava, a place to work from. Meyer Lansky, who's good friends with the struggling President Batista, can't wait to get his hands on the culprits either. But can anyone, good guy or bad, be fully trusted? Latour's occasionally stilted prose ("for of late he had become a man of archaic immorality") hardly detracts from a lively, entertaining read. Agent, Tracy Howell. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/01/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-8021-4186-6
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-55584-675-6
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