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The Havana Room Hardcover – Jan 1 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre / Not Applicable; First Edition edition (Jan. 1 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 2286000042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374299866
  • ASIN: 0374299862
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.3 x 3.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,656,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Harrison's status as the noir poet of New York crime fiction (Afterburn; Manhattan Nocturne) will surely be enhanced by his latest thriller-featuring, among other pleasures, the graphic description of several new and unusual ways to die. What goes on in the by-invitation-only Havana Room of a midtown steakhouse is certainly bizarre-but no odder than what happens in a Long Island potato field when a Chilean wine maker decides to expand his empire. Caught in the middle are two most unlikely heroes: Bill Wyeth, a real estate lawyer whose career and marriage are destroyed by a terrible accident involving a child, and Jay Rainey, a hulking, strangely sympathetic con artist. Linking these two is a touching and complicated woman, Allison Sparks, who manages the steakhouse but longs for more. "She seemed full of humor and fury and sexual need. She arranged people, fixed problems, came to decisions." Although Wyeth and Rainey drive the action, it's Sparks who sets the moral tone of the book. Meanwhile, the lush, alluring steakhouse and its public and private pleasures are the perfect metaphor for a postapocalyptic New York. "It did not matter if you polluted your lungs or liver or gut with the good stuff being served, because a man or a woman's life was itself just a short meal at the table, so to speak, and one had an obligation to live well and live now, to dine heartily by the logic of the flesh." Despite occasional digressions into arcane real estate law and Chinese cuisine, Harrison's storytelling hums and his prose shimmers all the way through this fascinating adventure.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Harrison's latest intelligent thriller does not offer quite as compelling a plot as his last one, the acclaimed Afterburn (1999); however, his businessman-turned-desperado characters are never less than riveting, bringing us an up-to-date bulletin straight from the heart of a battered New York City. Corporate lawyer Bill Wyeth is jettisoned from his pampered upper-middle-class lifestyle by a tragic accident. Arriving home unexpectedly, he gives his son's sleepy guest a glass of milk inadvertently laced with peanut sauce. The boy, severely allergic, goes into shock and dies. The boy's wealthy, grieving father engineers Bill's destruction, and he loses his job, home, and family. Desperate for some kind of structure, Bill becomes a regular at a long-established steakhouse, entering the orbit of beautiful and austere restaurant manager Allison Sparks. She gives him entree to the Havana Room, the scene of backroom deals and strange goings-on, and introduces him to Jay Rainey, a hugely charismatic and secretive businessman who draws Bill into a dangerous venture. Suddenly, both men are being stalked by hip-hop-loving thugs and a cultured but equally ruthless entrepreneur. The complex plot, however, merely seems like the framework for Harrison's ultra-modern morality tale about the costs of self-preservation and the deep pressures of being human. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
If you look at the reviews for this book, you will conclude that it must either be a masterpiece or a waste of paper. It is neither. Harrison has a lot of interesting ideas but does not, in my opinion, totally pull them off. The book is narrated by Bill Wyeth, whose rapid descent from a successful New York real estate lawyer to near bum is covered if the first chapter. Through a terrible mistake, for which he is not responsible, a child dies, and his powerful father uses his power to ruin Wyeth. In quick succession, he loses his job, his wife, and access to his son.
When he has reached the bottom, he wanders into a steak restaurant that seems to be an island of sanity in a world that has turned on him. He develops a crush on the woman who runs the restaurant, Allison Sparks. There is a mysterious room which is invitation-only that fascinates him but to which he cannot gain access. Then one night he is asked by Allison to help her boyfriend, Jay Rainey, close a real estate deal. He does, reluctantly, and as a result, (1) finds himself doing things that, while not clearly criminal, could be and (2) starts being threatened by a series of thugs for reasons he cannot understand. All of this leads him to uncover Jay Rainey's secrets as a way of saving himself.
The obvious influence on this book is the Great Gatsby. Rainey shares a first name (Jay) with Gatsby, an obsession with trying to reclaim the past, and a possibly criminal background. Indeed, Wyeth comes on a list of activities made by Rainey of what to do each day that is almost identical to a list made by Gatsby, although for different purposes. Of course, nothing is what it seems a first or even second glance.
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By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 26 2004
Format: Audio CD
Well remembered for his articulate readings of numerous audio books Henry Leyva gives a taut, totally absorbing vocal performance of Colin Harrison's latest thriller.
Bill Wyeth, a high powered real estate lawyer is upwardly mobile. He's already successful while still in his thirties, married, and the father of a son. While his wife wants more their New York apartment is upscale; their friends are important.
Then, he experiences every man's worst fear - he loses all by mere happenstance. It's a dreadful accident when he finds a drink for one of the young boys at his son's sleepover. Unbeknownst to Bill a mere drop of a substance to which the boy is allergic is in that glass. A severe reaction ensues, and the boy dies.
From the top of the heap he sinks to the bottom of the barrel. His wife takes their son and moves to another city. Set adrift in a world he does not know Bill takes to hanging out in a restaurant, a Manhattan steakhouse managed by the very attractive Alison Sparks.
Almost as intriguing as Alison is the restaurant's private bar called the Havana Room. Rumor has it that the goings on in that space are high stakes and dangerous.
Wanting to prove himself to Alison he agrees to a favor - he agrees to represent an unsavory character who needs to quickly close a real estate deal. Big mistake. Bill soon fears for his own life as he learns of murder and kidnaping.
Colin Harrison paints a frightening picture of the New York we'd rather not visit, and Henry Leyva describes it exceedingly well.
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By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 26 2004
Format: Audio CD
Well remembered for his articulate readings of numerous audio books Henry Leyva gives a taut, totally absorbing vocal performance of Colin Harrison's latest thriller.
Bill Wyeth, a high powered real estate lawyer is upwardly mobile. He's already successful while still in his thirties, married, and the father of a son. While his wife wants more their New York apartment is upscale; their friends are important.
Then, he experiences every man's worst fear - he loses all by mere happenstance. It's a dreadful accident when he finds a drink for one of the young boys at his son's sleepover. Unbeknownst to Bill a mere drop of a substance to which the boy is allergic is in that glass. A severe reaction ensues, and the boy dies.
From the top of the heap he sinks to the bottom of the barrel. His wife takes their son and moves to another city. Set adrift in a world he does not know Bill takes to hanging out in a restaurant, a Manhattan steakhouse managed by the very attractive Alison Sparks.
Almost as intriguing as Alison is the restaurant's private bar called the Havana Room. Rumor has it that the goings on in that space are high stakes and dangerous.
Wanting to prove himself to Alison he agrees to a favor - he agrees to represent an unsavory character who needs to quickly close a real estate deal. Big mistake. Bill soon fears for his own life as he learns of murder and kidnaping.
Colin Harrison paints a frightening picture of the New York we'd rather not visit, and Henry Leyva describes it exceedingly well.
- Gail Cooke
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Format: Hardcover
Oh, My! What have we here?
1. Woman in pumps with sexual appetite that'd make Jenna Jameson seem a nun;
2: Rich yuppie who, through no fault of his own, had lost "everything"
3: Oddball Mephisto with some scheme to blah blah
4. Mindnumbing discursi on points of intetest to no one outside the author's wife (NYC real estate, from the ice age onward, anyone?), and,
it's a Colin Harrison corpo-thriller!
Honestly, you want good crime fiction? JAMES ELLROY. Good thrillers? The GREAT and unknown, for some reason I can't figure out other than he's too morally honest for the creeps that buy dreck like Harrison's and twaddlers like The DaVinci Code, ALAN FURST. Harrison is published because he was a biggie at that schlock liberal rag whose name I can't recall, now at Scribners, which everyone knows is the home of TOP NoTCH LIT (drr), where Dostoevsky, no doubt, would take his mss. of The Devils were he a starvin' artist.
I forced myself to finish this book in one night and will forever regret the experience. There are bad, overrated writers, then there are writers like Colin Harrison, who don't even have the courage to admit they are writing schlock, who pretend their garbage is "genre-busting" when it's just the same Turow/Grisham garbagio with the difference T and G don't pretend to be pumping out great lit like silly Colin; then there are the pendants, toadies, and idiots who think they are increasing their own meager publication chances by raving about this dreck. Dante made a special place in hell for you, bud. Not going to tell you which, because I want you to suffer in finding it.
Folks, trust me. Wait for this one to go on remainder or buy it used from wherever. It's that damned bad.
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