Havana Fever by Leonardo Padura Translated by Peter Bush #HavanaFever @bitterlemonpub #PeterBush @RandomTTours


Book blurb

Havana, 2003, fourteen years since Mario Conde retired from the police force and much has changed in Cuba. He now makes a living trading in antique books bought from families selling off their libraries in order to survive. In the house of Alcides de Montes de Oca, a rich Cuban who fled after the fall of Batista, Conde discovers an extraordinary book collection and, buried therein, a newspaper article about Violeta del Rio, a beautiful bolero singer of the 1950’s, who disappeared mysteriously. Conde’s intuition sets him off on an investigation that leads him into a darker Cuba, now flooded with dollars, populated by pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and other hunters of the night. But this novel also allows Padura to evoke the Havana of Batista, the city of a hundred night clubs where Marlon Brando and Josephine Baker listened to boleros, mambos and jazz. Probably Padura’s best book, Havana Fever is many things: a suspenseful crime novel, a cruel family saga and an ode to literature and his beloved, ravaged island.

My thoughts

This is the eighth book in which Mario Conde appears by the Cuban author Leonardo Padura and the first book of this author that I have read.

Mario ‘The Count’ Conde is no longer a Police Officer having retired over a decade before. Conde has become a dealer in books. Buying and selling antique books to make ends meet in a Cuba which is no longer supported from external governments. This Cuba is a country in which every one is struggling to survive so there are illegal bars, restaurants and people wheeling and dealing, sell their valuables – all to keep starvation at bay.

Conde lucks upon a collection of books, a huge library of antique books many are worth a lot of money. He agrees terms with the owners, Dionisio Ferrero and Amalia, his sister, to buy a number of the books. He took some immediately and agreed to come back with Yoyi, a business partner, to sort through the library. They would categorise the books indicating those that were too precious to sell, those that would fetch a good value and the books not worth as much but saleable.

It is inside one book that Conde finds a newspaper article about Violeta del Rio. She was a singer in the 1950s who suddenly disappeared from the music scene. Conde is intrigued and digs into her story becoming almost obsessed with what happened to her. It starts a chain reaction of events which brings danger and death.

Will Conde solve the riddle of Violeta? How many people will suffer or die while Conde searches for the truth?

Padura vividly conjures up Cuba in particular Havana of both 2003 and the 1950s. So different, yet so similar. The pervading underbelly of poverty, drugs, drink, brothels, casinos and clubs covered in a scant veneer of glamour and respectability in the 1950s whilst by the 2000s Cuba had become a ravaged country with that underbelly exposed and most except, no doubt, those higher echelons doing whatever they could to fend of poverty and starvation.

From the listing of precious Cuban antiquarian books, perhaps a little tedious to some but fascinating to those who love books, to the gritty streets of the ‘no go’ area of Havana; from scenes with friends, with the Ferrero’s to those of witnesses, old sources and the police Padura paints vivid pictures of Cuba and its people which opened up a new world to me.

This is a story of obsessive love and it’s repercussions, a fascinating book of love and desire – the love of books, the love and desire that Violeta aroused, the feverish and obsessive desire to resolve the mystery of Violeta’s disappearance. Whilst I enjoyed these elements of the book – books and investigation what’s not to love? – it is the love of Cuba despite all its trials and the love of friends, who are to Conde as family, that make the difference in this story which I so enjoyed.


My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join this amazing BlogTour and to Bitter Lemon Press for an eCopy of Havana Fever by Leonardo Padura in order to read and share my thoughts.


Like to read more? Then take a whirl around these wonderful blogs.

A very simplified/potted history of Cuba 1950s – 2000s

Batista, dictator of Cuba from 1952 until 1959, whose period of rule saw even greater corruption in government, military and civil servants including the police than ever before. Where the rich got richer and the poorest grasped what they could and dreamed of better times. When Batista was overthrown in 1959 he fled to the Dominican Republic. Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries had succeeded after many years of guerrilla warfare. The USSR over time and in the interest of expanding communism in Latin America backed Castro’s Cuba until its (the USSR) collapse in 1991. The end of Soviet economic aid and the loss of its trade partners in the Eastern Bloc led to an economic crisis and period of shortages known as the Special Period in Cuba. Relations with Russia, formerly the Soviet Union, ended in 2002 after the Russian Federation closed an intelligence base in Cuba over budgetary concerns. Cuba forged links with Venezuela but the 90s and 2000s were very tough times for Cuba and it’s people.


Here’s some Boleros music from VMF on YouTube.


Published: Bitter Lemon Press (January 15, 2009)
Crime Fiction Paperback £8.99 292 pages
ISBN: 978-1-904738-367

Translator: Peter Bush

Buy: Bitter Lemon Press


Leonardo Padura was born in 1955 in Havana and lives in Cuba. He is a novelist, essayist, journalist and scriptwriter. Havana Fever has been published in Cuba, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Germany and France.


4 Comments on “Havana Fever by Leonardo Padura Translated by Peter Bush #HavanaFever @bitterlemonpub #PeterBush @RandomTTours

    • And this is the only one of his I’ve read. I do enjoy reading translations but as ever there is so much so a book tour gives me that opportunity and so often a new author to enjoy. He really does provide great atmosphere as you say.

      Liked by 1 person


Looking for thoughtful discussions about books and beverages? Well, you've come to the right place.

Taking On a World of Words

Homepage for fledgling writer Sam A. Stevens

Books, Cats, Etc.

A place to share my love of books, old and new


Thinking, writing, thinking about writing...


Book reviews by someone who loves books ...

Just One More Chapter

Book Reviews & More

Years of Reading Selfishly

Life is too short to read books you don't love

Crime Cymru

The Welsh Crime Writing Collective

Sharon Dempsey

First Chapter

Beverley's Reads

Book Reviews & The Joy of Reading

the dead authors club

a classics club blog


The poetry and writing of Ailsa Cawley. Welcome!

The Last Word Book Review

Musings about books and a blog journal

Crime Writer Margot Kinberg

...a crime-fictional site

Hugh's Views & News  

WordPress & Blogging tips, flash fiction, photography and lots more!

The Classics Club

A Community of Classics Lovers

Reading Matters

Book reviews of mainly modern & contemporary fiction

Raven Crime Reads

Criminally good reads

The book review café

Book reviews and the occasional ramblings of a book blogger

A crime readers blog

A place for crime fiction reviews and occasional ramblings of a 40 something in York

A Fangirl's Opinion

One Girl, Too Many Books

Jen Med's Book Reviews

Musings and Ramblings of a Disorganised Blogger

Digital Reads Media

Shalini's Digital Reads & Promotions

KayCKay Book Reviews

No one ever reads the same book. We all react to the written word differently. The following are my opinions regarding the books I have read.

Being Anne...

Books, travel, and other things that make life interesting

What Cathy Read Next...

For book lovers everywhere

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

Book related stuff in English and Dutch!

Nordic Lighthouse

Spotlight on Nordic / Scandinavian crime fiction... and connections

Novel Deelights

Escaping reality one book at a time

Jess Bookish Life

Reader | Writer | Blogger

Scribbling Clouds

The place where I put down all my thoughts and observations

Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

A book blog with a speculative focus

Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader

Reading under the light of a Carolina moon



Ah Sweet Mystery!

Celebrating the Golden Age of Detection in books and on screen

Bibliophile Book Club

Books, reviews and more...


Life in Newcastle and beyond...

Reviews by Chloé

Feast your eyes on all the books that I have absolutely LOVED


Book reviews and random musings

%d bloggers like this: