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Havana Bay Paperback – 1 Jun 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; New Ed edition (1 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330449249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330449243
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 418,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Russian detective Arkady Renko made his debut in Martin Cruz Smith's powerful 1981 novel Gorky Park. An enigmatic and complex character, he made further appearances in Polar Star and Red Square. In Havana Bay Renko has gone to Cuba to identify the body of an old colleague. It seems a simple enough task, but the putrefying corpse is unrecognisable as a human being and the authorities' insistence that he agree with their conclusions serves only to make Renko more stubborn. Soon it becomes apparent that his unexpected arrival is ruffling some powerful feathers. Finding himself in a strange limbo Renko slowly forms a bond with Detective Ofelia Osorio whose revolutionary zeal is tempered by her pragmatic intelligence. Unofficially investigating the case with Ofelia leads Renko to be gradually enmeshed in a world where conflicting cultures and the fallout from past events threaten to destroy what proves to be a deceptive calm. Martin Cruz Smith evokes beautifully the faded, colonial grandeur of Havana and its revolutionary legacy; its sense of a society whose engagement with history has left it outside of time. The pleasures of Havana Bay are of the slow-burning variety, but are all the more satisfying as a result. --Jonathan Crawford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The body, what was left of it, was drifting in Havana Bay the morning Arkady arrived from Moscow. The Cubans insisted that the body was his friend Pribluda, but Arkady wasn't so sure. The Communist world has shrunk to Cuba. Havana is a city of empty stones and talking drums, Karl Marx and sharp machetes - not welcoming place if you're a Russian, particularly if you're a Russian investigating the death of another Russian. But Arkady is used to being unpopular. He's even used to losing friends. Havana Bay is the fourth novel to feature Arkady Renko. The previous three, Gorky Park, Polar Star, and Red Square are also available in Pan. 'If there's more intoxicating and intriguing setting for a thriller than Moscow, Smith has found it in Havana. Sheer class', Mirror 'I hope a copy of this top-notch thriller reaches Castro as he wises up to the mobsters currently at his gate', Independent 'As in Gorky Park, Cruz Smith is outstanding on background. The feel of Havana is sensuously rendered', Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the first of the Arkady Renko novels I have read, and buying it was influenced by the fact that I had spent time exploring Havana and its environs a short time before.
Summoned by an unsigned fax from what turns out to be an old hand at Havana's diminished Russian Embassy, detective Renko travels from mid-winter Moscow to subtropical January in Havana, to investigate the disappearance and death of a KGB operative and one-time associate. Both he and his drowned friend Pribluda are of a mindset unable to come to terms with life in public service in post-communist Russia.
With an almost bumbling manner and persistence reminiscent of a Slavonic Peter Faulk playing Columbo in the 1970's television series (in a black cashmire coat with a story of its own in place of a trench-coat), Renko finds himself an unwelcome and unpopular reminder to the Cuban police investigating the gruesome corpse washed up in Havana Bay, of Russia's once domineering influence over their affairs. And a threat to some shadowy individuals with their own agenda for change in this outwardly ramshackle island nation.
Martin Cruz Smith has captured many of the undercurrents that pervade society in modern Havana. They range from a crumbling political, economic and social system (to say nothing of crumbling buildings and crowded tenements), to the moonlighting, hustling, and sex-for-sale, that puts bread on Cuban tables in the way that the state's mediocre salaries do not. He captures too, the cameraderie of Cuban war vererans of Angola and Ethopia. The pervasiveness of African mysticism and music in Cuban life. And the combination of stoicism and sheer exhuberance that shine though in what Castro euphemistically calls the "special times", of no Russsian aid and an ongoing US embargo.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Maria Magenta on 28 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
Moscow detective Arkady Renko, out of work and miserable for the last half-dozen years, is called to the Russian Embassy in Havana to look into the mysterious disappearance of his old comrade Sergei Pribluda. Renko is fighting suicidal impulses, trying to survive despite a crushing personal tragedy, and the trip to Cuba is an opportunity to leave the gloomy and cold Moscow winter behind and get away from the constant reminders of better times. Unknown to his bosses he plans to commit suicide once he gets to Cuba.

But immediately after he arrives the Cuban police want him to identify a floater pulled from Havana Bay as his missing friend. Pribluda, a former KGB agent, who is currently the Russian Security Service's resident spy in Havana, has been missing for almost two weeks. The Cuban authorities want him to make the identification, acknowledge that the death was from natural causes, and return to Moscow on the next flight.

Renko says he's not sure it Pribluda, since the body is badly decomposed and the circumstances surrounding the death may not be as obvious as they seem. Renko wants the Cuban police to investigate, however they apparently won't. Renko regains his will to live and is determined to find out what happened to Pribluda, so he begins his own snooping. What he finds is more than he expected and certainly more than the Cubans wanted him to find. It seems the case has the potential to become an embarrassment for Castro's government and the Cuban's want the matter closed quickly and quietly.

As he's done in Renko's past adventures, Smith shows his readers a culture and country foreign to most in the United States. He depicts a Cuba learning to make its own way in the world, an island with rich customs where 1950s vintage American cars cruise seaside boulevards and many people practice the mystic Santeria religion. I couldn't put this book down and I can't recommend it enough.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J.R.Hartley VINE VOICE on 30 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
What's this, a Renko book with no snow? I approached this book with trepidation as Renko abroad just didn't seem right, but as they say you can take the boy out of Moscow, but...

Arkady Renko is back in his fourth outing and instead of solving murders in Moscow he's in Havana to tie up the loose ends relating to the officially acccidental death of his old friend, and erstwhile KGB major, Pribluda. Renko remains the sardonic enigma we have grown to know and love, but his trip to Cuba is more than just another murder story, here we see Renko struggling to come to terms with who he is and his place in the world. The world has changed, but has he? Can he cope with the modern post-Communist Russia or will he find a surrogate home in Marxist Cuba? Will he come to terms with losing his beloved Irina forever? Will he fall for the fierce but fragile Ofelia?

Martin Cruz Smith serves up another dish of sinister menace with lashings of blood and seedy locations, but I have to say this book seems to take an absolute age to get going. I only stuck with it as I has enjoyed the other Renko books so much and I was glad that I did. However, readers new to Renko might be put off with the slow start and give up before the real fireworks start. As such, I recommend that you read the Renko books in order and that way you'll know more about Renko's legacy, his thorny friendship with Pribluda and why he misses Irina so.

The sultry feel of this book will make you hot under the collar and make you reach for some cool rum, but don't be fooled as the freezing chills of Gorky Park can still be felt.
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