Friday, May 15, 2009
Havana Bay by Martin Cruz Smith
Protagonist: Arkady Renko
In this fourth book in the series, Moscow investigator Arkady Renko finds himself in a post-Soviet Havana, investigating the death of Russian spy Sergei Pribluda, found floating on an inner tube in Havana Bay. The Cubans insist it was a natural death; Renko, of course, disagrees. Renko has another reason to be in Cuba, one driven by personal reasons. Still reeling from a great tragedy, he tries suicide. But in the midst of killing himself, someone breaks into his apartment and tries to kill Renko. Instead, Renko kills the intruder with the needle he was going to use on himself. This doesn’t endear him any more to Cuban police, who really don’t want him there. But one policewoman, Det. Osorio, eventually comes to believe in Renko. Both are outsiders, in different ways, and make a perfect team. Not only does Cruz Smith deliver a powerful plot, but he captures the Cuban psyche and life under Communism in the “Special Period” perfectly.