My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is what I’m talking about!
Bookshelves: americana, action-with-a-body-count, adventure, historical-fiction, literary-fiction, manly-men-kicking-ass, western, reading-challenge, this-is-the-stuff-right-here
Before starting Cuba Libre, I abandoned The Vatican Princess as rapey romance drivel masquerading as historical fiction about Lucrezia Borgia. A full review on that one will come as soon as I finish my alternate selection for my reading challenge book-about-an-interesting-woman category, so I can make that a twofer review.
After I tossed The Vatican Princess aside in disgust, I picked up #11 on my 2017 Reading Challenge, a book in a genre I don’t normally read. Cuba Libre is generally listed as a western, but it’s so much more. Although as far as I know the characters are not based on real people, I got the historical fiction fix I’d been after, this being set against the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor and the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. Arriving in Cuba three days later is cowboy and ex-con Ben Tyler (who didn’t start out to rob banks, he just robbed the bank accounts of people who owed him money, big difference, and he just got into the habit), with a string of horses for sale as cover for the smuggled guns that’ll make him the real bucks. There’s love at first sight, gunfights and train ambushes and saloon shootouts, Guardia officers and insurrectos and sugar barons and their lovely mistresses, military battles, a sweet heist, and lots of players making a run for the money that’s every bit as fun as Rum Punch/Jackie Brown.
Elmore Leonard was one of those writers who could make you feel the setting without a bunch of blathery description, and nobody could do dialogue like he did. Excellent.
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