Midnight in Havana-Peggy Blair
In beautiful, crumbling Old Havana, Canadian detective Mike Ellis hopes the sun and sand will help save his troubled marriage. He doesn't yet know that it's dead in the water - much like the little Cuban boy last seen begging the Canadian couple for a few pesos. For Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, head of the Major Crimes Unit of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police, finding his prime suspect isn't a problem - Cuban law is. He has only seventy-two hours to secure an indictment and prevent a vicious killer from leaving the island. But Ramirez has his own troubles. He's dying of the same dementia that killed his grandmother...
I don't know about you but I always expect the worse when I read books set in Havana by foreigners. I don't know what it is about Havana, there are so many other Cuban cities to set stories of corruption, decadence, and abuse in but foreigners always seem to choose Havana. And it's a Havana I've never seen-nothing like the Havana I visited and walked through and nothing like the Havana my mother grew up in. I've abandoned so many books about/set in Havana that if I had a dollar...
It's a testament to Blair that my usual qualms did not affect me. I was pleasantly surprised. This was a Havana full of Cubans I could believe. It was a book that definitely happened in Cuba with proper specifics without relying on the rather dull old tropes that cause me abandon so many books. I found the Canadian angle a bit of a stretch but it occurs to me that I know little about Canadian-Cuban relations so even that didn't bother me. The parts in Cuba, the detective's investigation were quality. They were written well without shock value in a mild thriller style. In fact, this is more a mystery than thriller. But the thriller parts were so well handled that I really enjoyed it all as a whole as the threads of the story are delicately woven together.