Mario Conde has retired from the police force and makes a living trading in antique books. Havana is now flooded with dollars, populated by pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, and other hunters of the night. In the book collection of a rich Cuban who fled after the fall of Batista, Conde discovers an article about Violeta del Rio, a beautiful bolero singer of the 1950s who disappeared mysteriously. A murder soon follows. This is a crime story set in today’s darker Cuba, but it is also an evocation of the Havana of Batista, the city of a hundred night clubs where the paths of Marlon Brando and Meyer Lansky crossed.
Yes, I could tell you that I loved this book but that would be to do it a disservice. "I adored it" would be closer to the mark. Mixing the gritty Cuba of today with the glorious Cuba of the 1950s Padura manages to bring both to life in the mind of the reader. A mystery that that covers the decades with retired policeman Mario Conde, now an antiquarian book dealer. I enjoyed both the old and the new Cuba settings but the earlier years worked best for me (mainly because I wanted to be there and experience the bars and music for myself)
It is part of a series but can be read on it's own as I did. I'll be getting the rest of them soon.
Highly Recommended 5/5*