This is the fourth volume of Padura's Las cuatro estaciones (The Four Seasons), a series of detective novels . The Cuban-born Padura won the Premio Cafe de Gir""n in 1995 and the Premio Hammett for best detective novel in 1997 and 1998 for the first three parts of this tetralogy: M scaras (Masks, Tusquets, 1997), Paisaje de Oto$o (Fall Landscape, Tusquets, 1998), and Pasado Perfecto (Perfect Past, Tusquets, 2000), all of which were also published in Cuba by the Uni""n de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (Cuban Writers and Artists' Union). In this fourth novel, the central character of the series, Lt. Mario Conde, investigates the murder of a high school chemistry teacher in Havana while becoming romantically involved with a married woman. The plot includes the typical romantic and lurid elements of detective novels but with unique Cuban twists, such as the criminal who becomes a government informant to protect his modest enterprise. Padura's writing is fluid and simple, and at first glance his characters seem one-dimensional. However, the reader will learn much about Cuban culture and broader sociopolitical issues; Conde's vernacular language, for instance, offers an intriguing and accurate insider's view of Havana's street life. Recommended for public and academic libraries with Spanish-language detective fiction and literature collections. Tatiana de la Tierra, Univ. at Buffalo, Undergraduate Lib.
Reviewed on: 09/01/2001 Release date: 09/01/2001 Genre: Fiction