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Dancing to "Almendra"
Mayra Montero
Adult Fiction MONTERO

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Montero's compelling latest (following Captain of the Sleepers) is set in Mafia-dominated Cuba in 1957, before Castro took power but during his military campaign from the hillsides. It tells the story of young journalist Joaqu!n Porrata, who's investigating the murder of mob boss Umberto "Albert" Anastasia, who really was murdered in 1957. Joaquin is warned at every turn to stay away from the story, but he persists, traveling to New York and back, drawing a beating for his trouble. His hard-bitten voice alternates in the narrative with that of Yolanda, his one-armed mulatta lover, who provides a more magical realist take on the surreal Havana of the '50s. Period figures like Meyer Lansky and George Raft play pivotal roles in nicely imagined sequences about a city where charm and corruption were indivisible. But it's in the death of Joaqu!n's brother, Santiago, tortured and murdered by the dictator's enforcers, that the reality of the coming revolution is brought home, making it clear that much more than a gaudy city of casinos and nightclubs is at stake. Montero blends fact and fiction with narrative aplomb: as in Graham Greene, the drama of a nation disintegrating in crisis is made very personal. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

It is 1957 in Havana, Cuba, and recent university graduate Joaquin has found a job as a journalist covering the local entertainment scene. Against his inclinations, he is sent to the local zoo to report on the gory death of a hippopotamus only to discover that that death was a tardy warning of the execution of New York Mafioso Umberto Anastasia. As Joaquin delves deeper into the mystery, he learns too much about the New York-Havana connection of Mafia and casinos. One of his contacts is Yolanda, a beautiful, one-armed former circus performer, with whom he falls in love. Joaquin's and Yolanda's stories are interwoven and sprinkled with actual figures like Meyer Lansky, George Raft, and Lucky Luciano, resulting in a vivid portrait of the last days of violent, corrupt, prerevolutionary Cuba. The Cuban-born Montero (Captain of the Sleepers), who now lives in Puerto Rico, has written a book that serves as both social commentary and a well-constructed mystery. Highly recommended.-Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Joaquin Porrata
Investigating the murder of a mob boss; brother was tortured and murdered.

Mulatta; has one arm; Joaquin's lover.

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