cover image Havana Lunar

Havana Lunar

Robert Arellano, . . Akashic, $14.95 (200pp) ISBN 978-1-933354-68-2

In the weeks before Hurricane Andrew sweeps down on Cuba in 1992, Dr. Mano Rodriguez is caught up in intrigue in this thoughtful, lushly detailed neo-noir from Arellano (Don Dimaio of La Plata ). Constant hunger is the order of the day, a week's pay from the pediátrico purchases either a liter of gasoline or eight ounces of coffee: “By the summer of 1991 everything stopped. Fidel called it the Special Period.” In this almost fantastical world, a teenage prostitute named Julia enlists Mano's help in escaping from her pimp. Much Spanish dialogue, with prompts in English on more difficult words, deepens the sense of locale. And how do you deal with murder in a police state that has zero tolerance for homicide and doesn't know the meaning of a cold case? The title comes from a blemish under Mano's right eye, a small hemorrhage shaped like Havana. How he got the mark as a boy is one of the many horrors of life in Castro's Cuba. (Mar.)