I’ve now read six books by Cuban writer Leonardo Padura. The first was Adiós Hemingway, read almost eight years ago due to my Hemingway (EMH) obsession at the time. I enjoyed reading EMH in fiction and Padura’s book was one of the better ones with the literary lion involved in the story. Reading about EMH, fiction or not, piques one’s interest in Cuba, one of the countries that he loved the best and lived in the longest. With Cuba in the news lately, I decided to read all of Padura’s novels, since most of them are now more accessible via Amazon. I am consumed with reading his books, especially any featuring Mario Conde first.
Conde, also known as the Count, is a Cuban policeman with a knack for solving Havana murders, first introduced to me in Adiós Hemingway. Even though the books are rewordings by British translators, I am certain the essence and élan of the books have not been lost. I am infatuated with Lieutenant Mario Conde. Padura has created one of my most admired fictional characters since Sharpe. Conde is flawed, an alcoholic, a heavy smoker, and a shameless womanizer. But Conde knows and admits his flaws, is unfailing loyal to those he calls his friends, bucks the repressive system when he can, is good at solving murders, and is open to new people and new ideas. Also, Conde is an aspiring writer. One of the books to be reviewed later contains a short story written by Conde.
If you want to learn a little more about Havana and life in Cuba, download one of Leonardo Padura’s books. The man can write. Hopefully, some of the novels featuring Conde will be made into movies.
If you want to read further about Cuba, Mario Conde, and Leonardo Padura, read this article from the New Yorker.