A torrid tangle of crime, corruption and lust in contemporary Cuba.
Though closing in on 60, Aldo Bianchi has the body and energy of a man a generation younger. So naturally the expatriate Argentine rebel, visiting Havana from his current home in Italy, has a hot young Cuban girlfriend. Bini, a working girl on the make, still considers Aldo her main hombre. Perhaps coincidentally, Alberto Ríos, a former Uruguayan military strongman with whom Aldo and Bini have both had histories, is also in Havana, keeping a low profile with a new identity. When a bicyclist is found murdered on the city outskirts, footprints left on the scene make Aldo a prime suspect. The investigation by shrewd police captain Bastidas becomes the matrix around which many other crosscurrents and lesser characters swirl. Chavarría moves his story both forward and backward, filling in details of Bini’s rough upbringing and Alberto’s history of violence and strategic maneuvering. Alberto’s enigmatic sidekick Raquelita prompts much speculation. At the same time, Gonzalo and Aurelia, Aldo’s confidantes, gossip incessantly while protecting his flank. Alberto turns up the charm to raise his profile with local political and crime bosses, who are often one and the same.
At his best, Chavarría (Adios Muchachos, 2001, etc.) has the stylish grit of Elmore Leonard, but his colorful characters often beguile him far from his main plot.