Havana Heat: A Lupe Solano Mystery
Feisty, fiery Cuban-American p.i. Lupe Solana knows her way in and out of every tight corner of her tropical Miami home. But now things are about to get hotter for Lupe than they have ever gotten before.
A fabled art masterpiece allegedly left behind in Castro’s Cuba has Lupe Solana intrigued—and contemplating an undercover excursion into the deadly heart of out-of-bounds Havana. But when the murder of a shady business contact is followed closely by another criminally assisted death, Lupe is suddenly searching for connections between the two local homicides and her covert art-rescue mission. Because it’s beginning to look more and more as if Lupe’s own life depends upon her making them…
Lupe Solano is a sexy, scrappy Miami PI whose social status as a daughter of the Cuban-exile aristocracy opens a lot of doors in South Florida. What’s behind those doors in Havana Heat include family secrets, tangled political alliances, and the rumored (but undiscovered) final tapestry in the Unicorn series, the Flemish masterpieces bought from a French aristocrat by John D. Rockefeller and given by him to New York’s Cloisters Museum, where they draw thousands of admirers annually.
A lavish wedding uniting two members of Cuban-American royalty sets the scene for the secret assignment pressed on Lupe by Lucia Miranda, whose ancestor sailed with Christopher Columbus, got off the boat in Cuba after the last voyage, and supposedly kept his captain’s gift from Queen Isabella—the eighth Unicorn tapestry. Lucia wants Lupe to retrieve the tapestry from its hiding place in Havana and smuggle it back to Miami. Since Lupe’s already made a specialty of reuniting the stolen or confiscated work of Cuban artists with the rightful owners, and the Unicorn tapestries have a special place in her heart, she agrees to the proposition—much to the dismay of her boyfriend, a sexy Cuban activist lawyer. But there’s a backup boy toy waiting in the wings who offers Lupe another job that dovetails neatly with the Unicorn hunt and points her to Havana in her father’s luxurious Hatteras yacht.
There’s enough suspense here to fuel an interesting plot, along with the allure of a closed society whose rituals and mores are exotic and largely unknown to many readers, and a heroine whose combination of sass, smarts and style make her consistently fun to hang out with. You could do a lot worse than curl up with Lupe until Sue Grafton pens another in her alphabet series. —Jane Adams