Intrigue snares an American lawyer visiting Cuba in this sluggish third novel from Goldstein (A Patent Lie, 2008, etc.).
Michael Seeley, featured in both of Goldstein’s earlier novels, is known for two things: his expertise in copyright law and his pro bono work for struggling artists. He’s also attempting a comeback at a major Manhattan law firm after being fired for failing to appear in court for his client. That was an alcoholic’s lapse, but Seeley has been on the wagon for a year now. An elderly black Cuban musician, Héctor Reynoso, comes to him with a simple request: He and his fellow musicians want their music back. They signed away their rights years ago, but their tunes, dating back to the 1940s, are being played all the time. Seeley overcomes his reluctance to get involved when Reynoso mysteriously disappears. A more action-oriented author would have sent Seeley to Havana lickety-split, but first the lawyer must joust at a partners’ meeting with his rival Hobie, who’s ex-State Department and has important contacts there, and then (for plot reasons only apparent later) meet with a banker who’s offering him a new entertainment client. Seeley’s mission in Havana is to track down Reynoso and the other musicians and have them sign the termination notices. He is helped by Amaryll, a Reynoso contact, a volatile black Latina beauty and the novel’s love interest. The signature gathering is slow, tedious work, further alienating the reader. Deep into the story, Seeley finds Reynoso dead in his apartment, murdered. There are many players here (the security police, State’s representative, a 90-year-old American lawyer working for that bank’s new client) but no answers, and the befuddled Seeley goes on a bender. State’s guy puts him on a plane back to New York, where a wordy denouement reveals that the musicians were victims of an unsavory deal between Castro and an American mobster.
Dull protagonist, cliché-ridden situations; a so-called legal thriller that’s long on law and short on thrills.