Detective novels set in exotic places are best if written by a native of the place, like the inspector Chen series by Xiaolong. And like that series, the first of them, this one, is one of the best. Don't be confused by Amazon calling it "Mario Conde Mystery 3". It is quite important to read them in the right order. For the curious, and as the publishing dates given are often wrong, it is as follows: (1) Pasado Perfecto (Havana Blue) (1991); (2) Vientos de Cuaresma (Havana Gold) (1994); (3) Mascaras (Havana Red) (1997); (4) Paisaje de otono (Havana Black) (1998); (5) Adios Hemingway (same) (2001); (6) La neblina de ayer (Havana Fever) (2005); (7) La Cola de la serpiente (2011). One of the attractions of this novel is that the investigation forces detective Mario Conde into remembering a long period of his life in high school when he fell in love for the first time. The re-encounter with his object of desire in this novel is moving and unsentimental. The second novel of the series is in many ways a continuation of this one, he has another try at love, but, like all good Marlowe type detectives, will remain essentially a melancholy loner. There are some excellent descriptive passages in this book, and colourful characters, often unrelated to the plot, that lift it above the average detective genre. In any case, it is best to read them in the correct order.
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