cover image Fidel's Last Days

Fidel's Last Days

Roland Merullo, . . Crown/Shaye Areheart, $23 (268pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-4868-7

After two light comedies with spiritual overtones, American Savior (2008) and Breakfast with Buddha (2007), Merullo mines far darker material to construct a powerful tale of modern-day, devastated Cuba and its all but indestructible dictator, Fidel Castro. Ex-CIA agent Carolina Anzar Perez, niece of Roberto Anzar, one of Miami's Cuban-born, anti-Castro expatriates, works for the White Orchid, a secret organization that has masterminded a complex assassination plot aimed at the ever-canny Fidel. In Cuba, Carlos Gutierrez, the minister of health, disaffected from his government, has become a major conspirator in the upcoming attempt. Guarding Fidel is the evil Col. Felix Olochon Marlos (aka the Dentist), head of the dreaded D-7 secret police. The suspense is as thick as an authentic café cubano , and the labyrinthine plot appears to point to a successful conclusion, until Merullo jams the knife in one last time and gives this timely thriller a final, chilling twist. (Dec.)