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    Review of HAVANA RUN by Les Standiford (see his website)


    G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2003

    Since his father's suicide and manufactured evidence of his corruption, John Deal has been forced off the police force and struggled to recover his father's once-thriving construction business from the financial problems his father's death had created. When wealthy hispanic businessman Fuentes offers Deal a million dollars as a retainer and invites him to Havana, Deal initially resists. He doesn't believe in things being too good to be true--he can't afford the hidden costs. But when the government asks him to cooperate with Fuentes, he agrees to play along.

    Once in Havana, life becomes complicated. In addition to the government, at least two groups seem to want Deal's cooperation. An adventure of chases through the jungle, into Ernest Hemmingway's old boat, and through the streets of Havana ensues. What Deal learns is that there are secrets within secrets and tha everything he had believed is a fabrication.

    Author Les Standiford offers a well written and interesting adventure story. Despite the implausibility of much of the story, Standiford's adventure-telling draws the reader in. Deal is largely unsympathetic and emotionally uncompelling as his cynical nature refuses to let him believe anyone (probably wise since everyone has been lying to him). HAVANA RUN does raise a number of important questions--the role of the mob in post-Castro Cuba, the trigger-happy nature of both the Cuban and American militaries, and whether the U.S.'s current restrictions on contact with Cuba truly serve anyone's interest.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 8/16/03

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