Havana, 2003, fourteen years since Mario Conde retired from the police force and much has changed in Cuba.
He now makes a living trading in antique books bought from families selling off their libraries in order to survive.
In the house of Alcides de Montes de Oca, a rich Cuban who fled after the fall of Batista, Conde discovers an extraordinary book collection and, buried therein, a newspaper article about Violeta del Rio, a beautiful bolero singer of the 1950's, who disappeared mysteriously.Conde's intuition sets him off on an investigation that leads him into a darker Cuba, now flooded with dollars, populated by pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and other hunters of the night.
But this novel also allows Padura to evoke the Havana of Batista, the city of a hundred night clubs where Marlon Brando and Josephine Baker listened to boleros, mambos and jazz.
Probably Padura's best book, "Havana Fever" is many things: a suspenseful crime novel, a cruel family saga and an ode to literature and his beloved, ravaged island.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 292 pages, black & white illustrations
- Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press
- Publication Date: 15/01/2009
- Category: Crime & mystery
- ISBN: 9781904738367
- EPUB from £10.55
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by Hagelstein
Mario Conde, retired as a Detective Lieutenant for a decade, now survives by acquiring and selling rare and valuable used books. It’s a time of crisis in Cuba, with pensions amounting to little - for those lucky enough to have them - and people going hungry. As people sell of their collections in order to eat, Conde occasionally unearths “paper jewels,” “bibliographic rarities that had been hidden for years and were now being disinterred by desperate hunger.”Conde stumbles on a treasure trove of rare books, the best library he ever expects to find, with some books he considers too valuable to remove from the house where they have been kept for over forty years. He also unearths a gripping mystery in that library, one that involves an obscure, and alluring, singer named Violeta del Rio.Conde becomes obsessed with the circumstances of the singer’s disappearance and how it ties in with the elderly couple that are selling off the books in the library. As Conde seeks out almost lost Cuban cultural history in the books and music he discovers he too feels like “a ghost from the past, a member of a species galloping towards extinction.”
Review by kateashenden
One of the most enjoyable mysteries I have read since Chandler. The image of Havana is memorable, and the picture the book draws of the music scene in Havana, past and present, is riveting. I can't wait to read another by Padura.