From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A one-time Argentine revolutionary exacts an inventive revenge on the ex-military man who once did him a horrible wrong in this superior crime novel from Uruguayan author Charvarría (whose 2001's Adios Muchachos won an Edgar). While visiting Havana, Aldo Bianchi, now in his mid-50s and living in Italy, falls in love with Bini, a spectacularly beautiful, not particularly monogamous 27-year-old woman. In the midst of his efforts to talk her into marrying him, he discovers that the now retired Uruguayan military officer who tortured him and killed his girlfriend years earlier is living in Havana, enjoying a happy life under the false name Alberto Ríos. Intent upon seeing harsh justice done, Bianchi employs every trick he can, including Bini's personal charms, to lure Ríos into a complicated trap. The author, who lives in Havana, brings to his novel a superlative narrative sense, keen feel for human behavior in desperate situations and a deep understanding of the nature of dictatorships. Charvarría is as adept at comedy as he is at tragedy. (May)
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*Starred Review* Sultry, sensuous, mysterious Havana is the locale for this unusual political thriller. Argentine-born Italian businessman Aldo Bianchi meets Bini, a beautiful, headstrong Cuban hooker, and becomes a 55-year-old satyr. For Aldo, this is a stunning development, because as a young man, he and his girlfriend were tortured by "Triple O," an infamous torture specialist trained by the U.S. government; that horror affected his relations with women. Through Bini, Aldo learns that Triple O is living in Havana under an assumed name, and he launches a convoluted plothinging on a pair of two-toned Florsheim shoesto get his revenge. What makes this novel unusual is that it is by turns bawdy, funny, dark, cheerful, learned, and madcap, populated with memorable characters and filled with the sense that Havana is a must-see travel destination. Chavarria knows his subject, too: a revolutionary in South America in the 1960s, he fled to Cuba in 1969 and taught classical literature at the University of Havana. Devotees of Paco Taibo III will love Chavarria, as will readers who travel vicariously with the help of the burgeoning ranks of international crime novels. Gaughan, Thomas
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