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Murder in Havana    by Margaret Truman order for
Murder in Havana
by Margaret Truman
Order:  USA  Can
Fawcett, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Margaret Truman has a reputation as a dazzling author of suspense thrillers. With Murder in Havana, she justly retains that reputation. Ex CIA operative Max Pauling accepts an assignment to do undercover work in Havana for a private medical research firm. And, as might be expected, he finds himself in the midst of financial skullduggery involving multinational corporations - and, incidentally, charged with murder.

The author seems very knowledgeable about Cuba and Fidel Castro. I found the background on Cuba's politics fascinating. The machinations of big business lie at the heart of the suspense, and the corruption in both the corporate and business worlds seems too realistic not to have some basis in fact. Truman gives the reader a gritty look at what the streets of Cuba are like for the average citizen today - dull, drab, bustling, blaring of car horns and filled with incessant music. Ancient American-made cars serve as not very reliable taxis. Government informers lurk on every corner, and in the blocks in between.

The citizens' clothes may look ragged and frayed, but they are clean and the people wearing them well groomed. Health care is provided for everyone and the literacy rate soars near 100%. Men and boys risk their lives to paddle out into the ocean supported by inner tubes to catch their families' dinners. In the midst of these gripping descriptions, Murder in Havana delivers a wonderful tale of suspense, intrigue, human emotions, dedication to one's country - and the decadence of greed. At the back of this novel is a teaser from Margaret Truman's Death in Ford's Theater. This one will top my list of must-be-read books.

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