cover image Havana Libre

Havana Libre

Robert Arellano. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-61775-583-5

Billed as a standalone sequel to Edgar-finalist Arellano’s Havana Lunar, this potent noir sheds light on Cuban life in the post-Soviet era. In 1997, a series of terrorist bombings have put the people of Havana on edge. The attacks, focused on densely populated tourist areas, seem aimed at crippling the communist power structure. When Mano Rodriguez, a talented pediatrician in Cuba’s national medical service, is invited to attend a medical seminar in Miami, he puts in a request for an exit permit, which attracts the attention of Col. Emilio Pérez of the revolutionary police force. Pérez offers to expedite the paperwork if Rodriguez agrees to help them with a special undercover mission to infiltrate the exiled Cubans in Miami believed to be responsible for the bombings, to help thwart future attacks. Rodriguez’s assignment is to fake his own defection, and his contact in Miami is none other than the father who abandoned him and his mother nearly three decades ago. Building to an explosive ending, this atmospheric mix of proletarian literature and Graham Greene–style espionage informs as it entertains. (Dec.)