Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hidden in Havana-Jose LaTour

Hidden in Havana
Jose LaTour
St. Martin's, Mar 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 9780312375676

Two Canadian tourists Sean Abercorn and his wife Marina Leucci jog the streets of Havana when they realize they did not bring enough water with them. To avoid dehydration, they ring the bell of an apartment occupied by siblings Pablo and Elena Miranda. Elena, a special education teacher, lets them in so they can cool off and gives them water.

Pablo is upset with his sister for allowing the strangers into their home as he suspects they cannot be trusted; he ponders what their real intent is. Soon after their encounter, someone murders Pablo. The Department of Technical Investigations Captain Felix Trujillo leads the official inquiry. Although connections between the victim and an illegal but money-making pornography scam surfaces, Trujillo thinks the link is to Pablo’s imprisoned father, who was a key figure in the overthrow of Batista back in the late of 1950s. What he remains ignorant of is the New York Viet Nam links.

Although the focus is mostly on the two tourists rather than on the more typical honest cop working a case within the bounds of a corrupt broken system, readers will appreciate HIDDEN IN HAVANA as the Cuban capital comes alive through the eyes of the outsiders. The story line is fast-paced even with ties back to the pre-Castro era. Fans of international crime capers with somewhat of a foreign police procedural to anchor it will relish Trujillo’s case while wanting him to return for more Cuban investigations.

Harriet Klausner