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Dancing to Almendra by Mayra Montero
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Dancing to "Almendra" (2005)

by Mayra Montero

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1642872,634 (2.98)26
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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
5.6.08
Alternating stories of a young journalist investigating the organized crime activity in gambling in 1950's Havana and the confessions of his girlfriend, a one-armed former circus performer. Strange and bloody tale and I found it hard to care about the characters, although the Cuban atmosphere was authentic and rich. You could almost hear the danzon music. ( )
  featherbooks | Apr 30, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Very enjoyable mix of mobsters, romance, magicians and the press set in pre-Castro Cuba. Small time journalist Joaquin Porrata hopes to make it into the big leagues when he discovers a connection between the killing of a hippopotamus in the Havana Zoo and the murder of Mafiosi Umberto Anastasia in a New York barber shop. Real-life mobsters and film star George Raft mix with the range of colorful characters in the novel, such as Poratta's one-armed girlfriend. The novel gives an entertaining look at Havana as Poratta finds himself getting in far deeper than he can imagine and the coming revolution gains momentum in the background to the story. ( )
  rmharris | Nov 2, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This seemed like a book I'd really like, but somehow I had trouble getting into it. I started it, put it down, and then came back months later. This time I finished it, but felt a little lost along the way. The main character is a young reporter investigating the Mafia presence in Cuba. All of the gangsters with all of their aliases kept running together in my mind.

The book would have been a lot better had it been rewritten to tell the story from Yolanda's point of view, since her sections were more compelling. ( )
  kbuxton | May 10, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Pre-Castro Cuba was a hotbed of corruption, a haven for Mafiosi, who ran the hotels, gambling and brothels that drew rich Americans to the island. Montero's odd, yet compelling, novel, begins on the day Umberto (Albert) Anastasia is murdered in New York City and a hippopotamus escapes from the Havana Zoo. A Cuban journalist, Joaquin Porrata, is assigned to cover the zoo story, but of course there is a connection to Anastasia's murder, and the rivalry between Lansky and Anastasia for control of gambling in Cuba.

It's noir in the tropics.
  lilithcat | Oct 11, 2009 |
Interesting period in Cuban history--just before Fidel, when corrupt officials ran the country with considerable assistance from American gangsters. Colorful cast of characters and multiple viewpoints add to the interest but also make the plot more difficult to follow. ( )
  Gary10 | Oct 13, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mayra Monteroprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grossman, EdithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312426739, Paperback)

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

 

Havana, 1957.  On the same day that the Mafia capo Umberto Anastasia is assassinated in a barber's chair in New York, a hippopotamus escapes from the zoo and is shot and killed by its pursuers.  Assigned to cover the zoo story, Joaquin Porrata, a young Cuban journalist, finds himself embroiled in the mysterious connections between the hippo's death and the mafioso's in this intoxicating story of murder, mobsters, and, finally, love. 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:05:33 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Havana, 1957. On the same day that the Mafia capo Umberto Anastasia is assassinated in a barber's chair in New York, a hippopotamus escapes from the Havana zoo and is shot and killed by its pursuers. Assigned to cover the zoo story, Joaquin Porrata, a young Cuban journalist, instead finds himself embroiled in the mysterious connections between the hippo's death and the mobster's when a secretive zookeeper whispers to him that he "knows too much." In exchange for a promise to introduce the keeper to his idol, the film star George Raft, now the host of the Capri Casino, Joaquin gets information that ensnares him in an ever-thickening plot of murder, mobsters, and, finally, love." "The love story is, of course, another mystery. Told by Yolanda, a beautiful ex-circus performer now working for the famed cabaret San Souci, it interleaves through Joaquin's underworld investigations, eventually revealing a family secret deeper even than Havana's brilliantly evoked enigmas." "In Dancing to "Almendra," Mayra Montero has created an ardent and thrilling tale of innocence lost, of Havana's secret world that is "the basis for the clamor of the city," and of the end of a violent era of fantastic characters and extravagant crimes."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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