Friday, 17 April 2015

Havana Sleeping

Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Havana in the 1850s is a city as dangerous as it is exotic. The murder of a humble night watchman at the British Consulate seems to worry neither the Consul nor the police.

But one person cared for the old man. The enigmatic courtesan Leonarda will not rest until she understands the mystery of his death.

In wintry England, George Backhouse is plucked from obscurity in the Foreign Office and given an unexpected promotion. His task: to travel to Cuba and take a stand against the illegal slave trade still flourishing there.

But Havana is a tinderbox of intrigue. As the great powers of the region conspire against each other with increasing ruthlessness for control of the island, Backhouse comes to see that the most innocent of actions could spark a devastating war.

To protect their interests, the powers-that-be in Whitehall are prepared to turn a blind eye to many things. Leonarda will not.

But what of George Backhouse?

I've gotta say, this was fascinating and intriguing, and I found the authors notes at the end a welcome addition! They were concise, but told you a fair bit, and where a nice addition at the end of the book after you've read the entire story. 

I found this book quite atmospheric to be honest, I went on holiday to Cuba when I was younger, we didn't stay in Havana but we did visit it and it was a colourful and fascinating place, and this was evident in the book, albeit a Havana from a different time period. I did get a real feel for Havana in the 1850's, and you could practically feel yourself there. 

However, I did find the book hard to get in to, I did find the place and the politics and everything fascinating and intriguing, but I did struggle to keep reading at points, especially in the first half as there where lots of different plot threads and some of them I couldn't work out the significance of. 

While I did want to know what happened next, I wasn't glued to the page, I was interested, but I wasn't totally engrossed. A few of the scenes fell a bit flat for me, and a few of the reveals didn't have the shock element for me. 

I initially found George hard to get on with when I was reading, but as the book went on, I got a better idea of him and he turned out to be quite courageous and I did end up liking him by the end, so the end of the book made me all kinds of sad! 

I hate unsolved mysteries, fiction or fact, they annoy me because I always have to know what happened, who did it and so on. You wouldn't believe the amount of times I've watched documentaries about various historical mysteries and gotten annoyed because I couldn't work out who'd done it or even come up with something, and I'm fascinated by all the theories. 

So this book drove me mad, because it's not the actual answer, and then the notes with what happened, and it was so obviously dodgy because nothing was stolen so yeah. I WANNA KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED DAMMIT! 

But yes, while the book was a struggle to get in to and didn't have me engrossed 100% of the time, it was intriguing and it was fascinating to learn about the politics of the time, as well as being an atmospheric read, it really gave you a feel for Havana at the time. 

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