Sunday, December 21, 2008

Killing Castro-Lawrence Block

Killing Castro
Lawrence Block
Hard Case (Dorchester), Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843961133

In June 1961, Castro has been in power for two years since his Communist revolution successfully deposed corrupt the dictator Batista. Not everyone is pleased with the change in leadership; especially the Americans who loathe a Soviet beachhead ninety miles from Florida and the many Cuban expatriates who fled to the Miami for safety.

Someone using the name Hiraldo offers a $100,000 bounty for killing Castro. Five men forge an agreement of sharing the loot equally as they plot to sneak onto the island and take Castro’s head with them when they leave. Ray Garrison has never worked with partners when chasing down a bounty; Michael Turner is a cold blooded killer; inexperienced teenager Jim Hines is motivated by his brother's execution; cancer victim Earl Fenton wants to have one good deed in his pocket when he meets his maker shortly; and mercenary Matt Garth sees a solid pay day. In Southern Florida the quintet receives logistical support from the exiled Cuban community who ignore their penchant for violence. Soon they will cross into Cuba heading for Havana and a date with Castro.

Not to long after the Bay of Pigs invasion (April 1961), but prior to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis is the time frame of this exciting thriller, a reprint of a 1961 tale; the story line actually reads more as a historical thriller with insight into the beginning of the Castro reign and the end of Batista then the contemporary story when first released. Although the climax is rushed, this novel is character driven and fast-paced especially once the not so magnificent five meet up. Fans will appreciate this fine Lawrence Block thriller while comparing the plot to Castro’s five decade reign.

Harriet Klausner