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Havana Libre


The scintillating stand-alone sequel to Arellano’s 2010 Edgar Award finalist, Havana Lunar.

$15.95 $11.96

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

“[An] exquisitely made thriller . . . A remarkably powerful narrative. The interrogation scene repulses while it grips . . . but readers are advised to stay with it for a rich reading experience.”
Booklist, Starred Review

“At the behest of Castro’s government, a Cuban doctor is sent to Miami in 1997 to find out who has been sponsoring a series of terrorist bombings in Havana in this new novel by Arellano . . . This novel is rich in atmosphere and political critique.”
Kirkus Reviews

“This potent noir sheds light on Cuban life in the post-Soviet era . . . Building to an explosive ending, this atmospheric mix of proletarian literature and Graham Greene–style espionage informs as it entertains.”
Publishers Weekly

Included in CrimeReads’s overview of crime fiction set in Havana

Included in CrimeReads’s Refugees in Crime Fiction roundup

“Engaging. The story is filled with rich detail, most of it not far from the truth. There’s a humanity, and a humbleness, that draws us to Mano, a loner caught up in a bigger political tug-of-war . . . [Havana Libre] brings a unique voice to noir fiction.”
Reviewing the Evidence

“The book is a vehicle for Arellano to express his newfound understanding of and love for the Cuban people and their charm, curiosity and welcoming warmth for strangers — which is what Arellano found on his first trip there, starting in 1992.”
Ashland Daily Tidings

Havana Libre takes us on a journey of political intrigue and espionage, with twists and turns until the very end . . . Havana Libre is an enticing novel that is a must-read for those who enjoy political history and intrigue mixed with diverse culture.”
Underrated Reads

“Amidst the action, the quiet star of Havana Lunar and Havana Libre is Arellano’s rich landscapes of daily life in Cuba during the special period, including blackouts, food shortages, the intricacies of conversation under an authoritarian government, and the craftiness of locals who offer guided tours to tourists for money — all details from over a decade of Arellano’s journals from his trips in the ’90s. ”
Miami New Times

“If you like politic thrillers, then this is the novel for you. It’s explosive, intriguing, a true page turner filled with many twists and turns. It is the story of a Cuban doctor sent to Miami with to uncover a series of terrorist bombing taking place in Havana. The time is 1997. Definitely one to put on your reading list. You won’t be disappointed.”
The Latino Author, One of the Top Ten Best Fiction Books for 2017

“The intrinsically linked politics and culture of Cuba and Miami combine for an unusual spy novel in Robert Arellano’s second novel about Havana pediatrician Mano Rodriguez . . . A bit of paean to the old-fashioned spy novel.”
South Florida

“Highly recommended . . . . A memorable portrait of Havana at its most colourful and a gallery of wonderful characters moving through a rainbow of human emotions and experiences at all levels of Cuban and Miami society. [Predecessor] Havana Lunar was nominated for the Edgar; its follow-up deserves a similar fate.”
Crime Time (UK)

“In his seventh novel, a noir sequel to Havana Lunar, which was nominated for an Edgar Award, Arellano skips between multiple points of view to create both a finely detailed tour of life in post-Soviet Cuba and a satisfying thriller.”
Brown Alumni Magazine, Included in Fresh Ink

“There’s a fine tradition of crime writing in Cuba and Havana Libre is a great new addition to the pantheon. A mix of spy story and political thriller, the characters and places are very grounded in the real world but the story has a slightly surreal touch . . . Havana Libre, cleverly, doesn’t draw cheap political conclusions but like all the best crime fiction the plot is bolstered by a deep understanding of the political, economic and social situation in the country.”

“Arellano’s world of clinic doctors, hotel hustlers, secret police, and neighborhood spies is as rich and vibrant a place as I’ve come across in fiction in a long while. His style has something of Bolaño’s cynical, madcap energy, but with Graham Greene’s eye for the small absurdities in life, the same absurdities that, under the right (or wrong) circumstances, spin out into an international catastrophe.”
Literary Hub

“In 1997, a series of bombs rocked Havana—a city already deep in an economic and spiritual depression. In Havana Libre, the anxiety of the time is palpable. Robert Arellano gives us a detailed and precise portrait of one of the most surreal places on earth. A mystery with alluring twists and turns, Havana Libre also poses a deeper question: how does one contend with the anguish of loving a place that can never, ever love you back? Compelling and restrained, this is Arellano’s best to date.”
Achy Obejas, author of The Tower of the Antilles

Praise for the previous works of Robert Arellano:

“[A] thoughtful, lushly detailed neo-noir.”
Publishers Weekly, on Havana Lunar

“A sad, surreal, beautiful tour of the hell that was Cuba in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The writing is hypnotic, the storytelling superb. Havana Lunar is perfect.”
—Tim McLoughlin, author of Heart of the Old Country

“Written with passion and vision and with a clear, unflinching eye, Havana Lunar breaks new ground. In it the Cuban underworld of chulos and jineteras is revealed and the überworld of political bosses and apparatchiks unmasked. I am certain that Havana Lunar will find a wide and enthusiastic readership.”
—Pablo Medina, author of The Cigar Roller, on Havana Lunar

“In this unsettling mix of noir and paranormal obsession, Arellano displays a sly, Hitchcockian touch.”
Publishers Weekly, on Curse the Names


In this explosive follow-up to Havana Lunar, Dr. Mano Rodriguez takes an undercover assignment to the most dangerous city in Latin America: Miami.

During the summer of 1997, a series of bombings terrorize Havana hotels. The targets are tourists, and the terrorists are exiles seeking to cripple Cuban tourism and kill the Revolution. After Mano finds himself helpless to save one of the victims, his nemesis Colonel Emilio Pérez of the National Revolutionary Police recruits him into Havana’s top-secret Wasp Network of spies for a job that only he can perform—but for reasons he never would have believed or expected.

Read interviews with Robert Arellano at Literary Ashland and at Nudge.

Listen to interviews with Robert Arellano on The Jefferson Exchange and the KBOO Evening News.


Book Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Published: 12/5/17
  • IBSN: 9781617755835
  • e-IBSN: 9781617756016
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617756566


ROBERT ARELLANO is the award-winning author of six novels including Curse the Names, Fast Eddie, King of the Bees, and Don Dimaio of La Plata. His nonfiction title Friki: Rock and Rebellion in the Cuban Revolution, was released in 2018. He lives in Oregon. His latest novel, Havana Libre, is the standalone sequel to his Edgar-nominated Havana Lunar.

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