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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Havana Blue

Leonardo Padura

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To purchase Havana Blue

Title: Havana Blue
Author: Leonardo Padura
Genre: Novel
Written: 1991 (Eng.2007)
Length: 244 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Havana Blue - US
Pasado perfecto - US
Havana Blue - UK
Havana Blue - Canada
Havana Blue - India
Passé parfait - France
Ein perfektes Leben - Deutschland
Passato remoto - Italia
Pasado perfecto - España
  • Havana Blue is the first volume in Padura's 'Havana Quartet'
  • Spanish title: Pasado perfecto
  • Translated by Peter Bush

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Our Assessment:

B+ : atmospheric

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 19/8/2004 Florian Borchmeyer
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 18/9/2003 Hans-Jörg Neuschäfer
The Times . 21/4/2007 Marcel Berlins
Die Welt . 21/2/2004 Ulrich Baron

  From the Reviews:
  • "Diese Mischung aus Spannung, Erotik, Gesellschaftskritik und einer Spur Exotismus kennt freilich auch noch einen weiteren Zielort: die Verkaufsregale westlicher Buchmärkte. Doch es ist vielleicht gerade das unverhohlene Schielen auf den wirtschaftlichen Erfolg, welches Paduras Romanen ihren eigenartigen Reiz verleiht." - Florian Borchmeyer, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "The search uncovers various sexual secrets and murky financial dealings, but, as with the first two novels in the series, the plot is not the main attraction." - Marcel Berlins, The Times

  • "Bei Padura gibt es so gut wie keine Kuba-Klischees. Er zeichnet ein ehrliches, unideologisches Bild von verlorenen Illusionen der Jugend." - Ulrich Baron, Die Welt

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Havana Blue is actually the first of Padura's 'Havana Quartet'. Set in the first days of January, it introduces Lieutenant Mario Conde, and already it's not a great beginning to the year for him. He originally wanted to be a writer but became a cop, and he's good at his job, which is why his boss calls him in even when he's supposed to have a day off.
       The chief executive in the Ministry for Industry has disappeared: an important figure, and the sort of thing that isn't supposed to happen. Complicating matters for Conde is that he knew the man in question, Rafael Morín Rodríguez, from high school -- and that Rafael married a girl he was in love with, Tamara. Investigating the case dredges up old memories of more carefree days -- and it's these almost free-association scenes, of Conde's old pals (and the changes everyone has undergone over the past decade or two) and those different times that Padura is particularly good at.
       The present-day is handled pretty well too, with everyone older and a bit world-weary, uncomprehending of what's become of everything, and often verging on disillusionment.
       Rafael did well for himself, but as soon as Conde starts sniffing around he finds some shady-looking things. More privileged than most in his government position, Rafael seems to have taken advantage of it -- but it takes a while to piece together who had the right incentives to want to get rid of him.
       Set in communist Cuba, Padura conveys the feel of the place, and the local hardships (even as everyday life isn't that much different than in many other places). The major differences come across very clearly:

You know what travel means for anyone, not only in this enterprise but in the country as a whole. A person who travels feels different, chosen, as if he'd broken the sound barrier ...
       The police procedural aspect of Havana Blue is fairly basic, though Conde's approach to investigating and questioning witnesses makes for a decent tour of the Havana of the times. He's good at what he does -- and his boss knows he's the man for the job:
Remember there's a loose end somewhere, and who better than you to find it ? OK ?
       Not that Conde has much choice in any of the matters: a sense of inevitability hangs over almost every aspect of the novel.
       A fun mix of American-type-noir with sultry Cuban atmosphere, Havana Blue is an enjoyable little read.

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Havana Blue: Reviews: Leonardo Padura Fuentes: Other books by Leonardo Padura Fuentes under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Cuban author Leonardo Padura Fuentes was born in 1955.

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© 2007-2017 the complete review

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