Saturday, June 23, 2018

Leonardo Padura's Havana Gold

Leonardo Padura's Havana Gold is part of the "Havana Quartet," four novels about Police Lt. Mario Conde. As mysteries go, it's not particularly intricate or surprising, but he's a compelling character, lonely and introspective. The story is about the murder of a young teacher, who taught at the school he attended, which then brings up additional memories and regrets.

Beyond the imagery of Havana and his own musings, I liked the indirect but clear political references. It was written in 1989, the same year Fidel Castro executed a high level military officer and hero, General Arnaldo Ochoa, who stood accused of drug trafficking. In the novel, the young woman's body is found at an apartment with remnants of marijuana, the presence of which surprised and vexed everyone. The vexation stemmed from the fact that whoever dealt drugs had ties to (unnamed) higher ups. Such things could not be done without them knowing.


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