Friday, March 29, 2013


I found it difficult to get into this story but stuck with it because it gives such a detailed view of the two Havana realities. There is the tourist Havana with its own money and luxuries. Then there is the residents' Havana with its poverty, horrible living conditions, and restrictions. This second Havana is only visible to tourists because of the ubiquitous beggars who want not just money but soap, pencils, and other small items they can't buy.

This story is about Detective Mike Ellis, a cop in Ottawa, Canada. He has rather stupidly chosen Havana for a vacation with his wife, hoping that being away will somehow repair the problems in their marriage. The last straw for her is when he gives some tourist pesos to a little boy after she told him not to. She checks out early and flies home. The boy is found dead the next morning and Mike Ellis is accused of raping and killing him.

Knowing he has been framed and is in such peril gave me the willies, but by that time I was caught up in the story and just had to know what happened so I read the rest of the book. There is much to admire here, especially the character of Inspector Ricardo Ramirez of the Havana Major Crimes Unit. Apparently this is the first in a series of novels about Ramirez and he is certainly interesting enough to warrant a series.

The plot and writing style are excellent, but I most enjoyed learning about Castro's Cuba. I recommend the book to those who like mysteries in foreign settings, intricate plots, and well drawn characters.

Source:  Amazon Vine


  1. I'll have to remember that this starts slow if I ever read it. I do like mysteries and foreign settings so think I'd like this one.

  2. Thanks for the nice review! I haven't had a lot of comments from readers about a slow start; usually they blame me for keeping them up all night reading. But I really appreciate your feedback, thanks! Peggy

  3. Kathy and Peggy, As I think about this book (and yes, it has stayed with me), perhaps the reason I thought it started slow was because I was frightened for Mike Ellis right from the beginning. Not knowing much about the Cuban justice system, I sort of hesitated to get really involved, but couldn't help myself. Peggy, thank you for commenting.

  4. Also, a lot of the groundwork is set in the beginning. It's funny how many people found the interrogation scene so harrowing (I was writing it from Ramirez's perspective mostly, and wanted to keep the notion of Ellis's guilt or innocence uncertain until much later on, but a lot of people certainly feel the way you do!) Thanks again!

  5. I've been debating reading this book - I've never really liked novels where a character has been framed, but the storyline really intrigued me. I'm definitely adding this one to be my to-read list now. Thanks for a great review, Barbara!