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Friday, March 7, 2014

Book Review: Havana - Gritty and Bloody

Havana (2003) by Stephen Hunter is a gritty, bloody tale of tremendous power and satisfaction set in Cuba 1953, a world of vice, gambling, sex and drugs just thirty minutes by air from Miami. The Mafia runs the casinos and Meyer Lansky, the mob’s leader in Cuba, vies with the CIA and American business interests to control the Batista regime and keep the river of cash flowing. Into the cauldron steps Earl Swagger, the protagonist of three previous 1950s-set Earl Swagger novels.

 This time the ex-Marine Medal of Honor winner and legendary gunfighter is called in by the American government to serve as a bodyguard to Congressman Harry Etheridge in his investigations of New York-gangster activity at the American naval base in Cuba. The congressman is more interested in exploring the city’s culture of vice and Swagger is reluctantly drawn into a complicated plot to kill self-centered, failed baseball star Fidel Castro, intent on wresting power from the corrupt government and returning it to the people. But Swagger thwarts backstabbing countrymen, the mob and even the Russians in this excellent addition to the series.
Review by Peter Critchley of the Vernon Branch

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