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By juliana on 13-01-16
Fascinating historical backdrop for this story
I've seen this book criticised for the clunkiness with which the crime story comes to an end and the fact that a not very prominent character from the novel ends up playing a prominent role (I am trying not to spoil things here). And that'd a criticism that is fairly made by people who are plot addicts, I can see the disappointment.
However, I loved this book because of the backdrop to the crime story which is really original. Unravelling the history of the Black Panthers in Cuba (some of which is presumably based on Assata Shakur) and then spinning a yarn from it works for me. There is some really well researched historical knowledge that forms the foundation of this book and although the characters like the female government agent and the transvestite are sometimes a bit caricature they are also much more original than other writers' creations: they are deceitful, driven by self interest, they develop (a bit) over time and they have a strong sense of humour and (self-) irony without being stupid.
It feels as if Stone has travelled extensively in Cuba, has been ripped off and fallen for a good story that is sold to us with a touch of Cuban magic (haven't we all ...). Wether he refers to the infamous Mariel boat lift and the fact that Castro helped all his prisoners "escape" to the USA or whether he explores the role of the secret Abakwa society which operates in the underground, this book oozes Cuba.
If anything this is my main criticism. Sometimes less would have been more and at times Stone is laying it on a bit too thick. In particular the ending was much more bombastic than I needed it to be.
All that said, however, I really enjoyed this and if anyone is looking for a crime story to delve into the reality of another country or needs a page turner when travelling Cuba (where I read this) - I do recommend and as always Jeff Harding is one of my favourite narrators!
P.S. Ignore the inappropriate title - maybe that was a publisher's attempt to cash in on the succss of Stone's previous stories
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