Ever since 1935, the seven medieval tapestries comprising The Hunt for the Unicorn have decorated the walls of the Cloisters in New York. Now Lucia Miranda has come to Coconut Grove shamus Lupe Solano with news of an eighth, a companion work long owned by her family that her dying mother would like see one last time. The problem is that the Miranda tapestry has been hidden in a Havana basement since 1961. Lupe isn’t eager to risk her life by making another clandestine visit to her homeland. But if she’s going to be there anyway, she reasons, she might as well contact Camila Estrada, the painter who wants Lupe to take back to Miami a cache of paintings Camila has replaced with copies she painted herself. (Never mind that Lupe indignantly rejected the proposal when Camila’s brother, lowlife art dealer Angel Estrada, first made it to her, or that both Angel and his brother Jesus have since been murdered.) There’s a third case too, the disappearance of a gallery owner who’s needed to resolve a dispute between two collectors claiming ownership of the same painting. Between multiple cases, rival lovers, and lovingly detailed restaurant meals, Lupe is so busy that it doesn’t look as if she’ll ever make it back to Cuba, and you have to sympathize with Lucia’s impatient nagging, despite all that mascara.
Miraculously, Lupe (A Miracle in Paradise, 1998, etc.) does manage to tie up most of the loose ends, even though the perilous Cuban expedition seems to take less time than one of those opulent lunches. (Author tour)