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“An entertaining and suspenseful story. . . . [Latour] has managed to capture the sights, sounds, smells and rhythms of Havana in a way that is as much nostalgic as it is descriptive.” Kevin Baxter, The Miami Herald
Havana World Series
978-0-8021-4186-6 • $12.00 • Paperback • June 2005
From one of Cuba’s emerging thriller writers, a gripping novel of baseball, politics, and the mob in 1950s Cuba
It is the fall of 1958 in Havana, Cuba. Mickey Mantle’s New York Yankees are playing the Milwaukee Braves, and from the greasy-spoon cafeterias to the luxurious casinos, bets are coming in fast and furious. Everyone is riveted to the seriesand no one more so than criminal mastermind Mariano “Ox” Contreras. He has been handpicked by the Joe Bonanno crime family to pull off one of the biggest, most daring heists in Cuba’s historythe one that will finally bring rival mob boss Meyer Lansky’s hotel and gambling empire to its knees.
With the guidance of Lebanese hustler-turned-tycoon Elias Naguib, Contreras organizes a dream team of Cuba’s most intrepid and ingenious ex-cons. His right-hand man is Fermín Rodríguez, a short, bald Spanish-Cuban whose career as a pimp ended when he stabbed a boxer in the liver. The law-school dropout Arturo “Abo” Heller is the decoy, posing as the high-rolling son of a tobacco farmer. Former gigolo turned Casino de Capri dealer Wilberto “Willy Pi” Pires is the inside man. Valentin “Meringue” Rancaño, a backwater boy who came to the Cuban capital with twenty-five stolen pesos in his pocket before cutting his teeth as a dice shark, is the scout. And Melchor “Wheel” Loredo, the island’s most intrepid car thief, is the getaway driver.
As the series goes down to the wire, Contreras and his ragtag team await the final out, when the overflowing coffers of Lansky’s casino are ripe for the picking. If all goes off without a hitch, their futures will finally be made. But in a country where unrest and uncertainty are the order of the day, is it possible that all will not go according to plan?
Havana World Series is a brilliant history-steeped anatomy of a casino heist and its aftermath. An internationally acclaimed master of suspense, José Latour brings to life his native Cuba with vibrant, cinematic intensity, offering a dark, thrilling novel of violence and intrigue and an enthralling homage to a country on the brink.