by Sukey HowardAugust, 1999
Russian police detective Arkady Renko, at the end of his emotional rope, wrapped in Slavic melancholy, exchanges the cold gloom of Moscow for the heady heat of Havana. He's come to help a comrade, but the comrade, it appears, is far beyond that point. Arkady's irrepressible instinct for investigation keeps him going, involving him in a complex, politically motivated murder case, touched with a tad of conspiracy. In his three previous novels starring Renko, Martin Cruz Smith has shown us present-day Russia as seen through Russian eyes. In Havana Bay (6 hours), he goes one better, letting us look at Cuba through Russian eyes and Russia and Russians through Cuban eyes, and he does it brilliantly. Invoking a fabulous range of Russian, Cuban, and American accents, Stephen Lang's narration adds to the authenticity of Cruz's battered, brave Havana, somehow surviving in the crumbling ruins of Communism.