BITTER SUGAR by Carolina Garcia-Aguilera


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When he seized power in 1959, Fidel Castro nationalized virtually all Cuban industries, including the five sugar refineries that had been in Ramón Suzarez’s family for generations. Now, shortly after Ramón’s shiftless nephew Alexander has been approached by a Spanish combine offering to purchase two of the refineries—the two that are standing idle—for $3.5 million, some ten cents on the dollar of their evaluated worth, Alexander has disappeared. Incensed at the suggestion that he renounce his claim to the refineries, Ramón wants Cuban-American p.i. Lupe Solano, his best friend’s daughter, to find out what’s going on. Lupe is even more interested in the question of why anybody would pay for clear title to properties that were nationalized 40 years ago. Before she can make headway on either of these mysteries, though, Alexander is murdered in the Ecstasy Hotel, and the Miami cops arrest Ramón for his murder. It’s only the first of a series of killings that’ll have Lupe—one hand on the religious medals pinned to her bra, the other on the Beretta in her Chanel bag—jumping from her boyfriend, immigration attorney Alvaro Mendoza, to her sometime lover, criminal attorney Tommy MacDonald (she also consider flings with two other lawyers), before a possible indictment for murder herself and a face-off with a suspect she’s plucked from thin air leave her confronting the future with still another suitor.

Relentlessly glamorous meals, cars, outfits, and supporting characters can’t hide the threadbare plotting in Lupe’s sixth case (Havana Heat, 2000, etc.), whose complications are still getting phoned in seconds before the fadeout.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-380-97781-8
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2001


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