AudioBook Review: Havana Lost by Libby Fischer Hellmann

I know I’ve been lax about getting my audioBook Reviews up lately. It’s been a Gordian Knot sort of few weeks… But now is the time to remedy that failing as I bring you Havana Lost by Libby Fischer Hellmann.

AudioBook  Review:
Overall:  5   Narration: Story:  4.5

Libby Fischer Hellman was my entrée into the suspense / thriller AudioBooks, and the quality that I noticed in her other titles: both historical accuracy and characters created to bring the “feel” of the events to life are exemplary.  In her pairing of work with narration, Diane Piron-Gelman is the perfect narrator, and for a twist, she has added the narrating talents of James C. Lewis: a dual narration that matches the story in both tone and pitch, and provides a listen that is both pleasant and easy to comprehend.

Havana Lost brings us three generations all with ties to both Havana and Chicago, but starting with Francesca, daughter of a Mafia man with ties to Chicago; he is running a casino in Havana in 1958 (pre-revolution).  Francesca meets and falls in love with a pro-Castro revolutionary and runs away with him rather than cooperate with her parents’ plans to return her to the less-volatile Chicago.

From here the nuancing of characters and extensive research come into play: what is commonly believed as a good/bad or black/white issue around the Cuban revolution and conversion to communism (with a healthy dose of time expended to show ties between Cuba and Angola) give a healthy shade of grey to explore, from that viewpoint alone this is a history lesson without the boring bits!

In typical strong-arm fashion, Francesca is found and returned to her parents care, and married off before her pregnancy becomes a known issue.  Her growth throughout the story, the hardened edges and maturity are impressive, while never refusing to acknowledge the ties she and her son have to Cuba.  These ties will lead her son and granddaughter to return in search of a rumored buried treasure: each one brings a vision of Cuba past its glory days of the 30’s and 50’s with Hemingway at the bar and casinos bringing American tourists to spend.  From gentle decline to abject poverty, secretive revolutionary thinking and harsh punishments for those who speak out: this story shows a correlation in the family losses to the country’s decline that are near parallel.

Narration is perfect in this story: never harsh or overbearing, not distracting or overly emoted, the narrators match pitch and tone with patois and delivery to delineate characters, giving readers a sense of who is speaking at all times.  If there is one weakness, it is the rush to the finish to wrap the story up with conclusions that are not quite signaling the end of the road, but presenting a bleak picture of both life with the mafia and life in modern Cuba. Full of twists and turns, and several unexpected moments this was a listen that was hard to put on pause, and has whet the appetite for more.

AudioBook Review: Havana Lost by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Title: Havana Lost
Author: Libby Fischer Hellmann
Genre: Historical Non-Fiction, Literary Fiction /Family Saga, Thriller
Narrator: Diane Piron-Gelman, James C. Lewis
Published by: Self-Produced
Source: Author
Pages: 302
Rated: five-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon AllRomance iTunes
See this Title on Goodreads

On the eve of the Cuban Revolution, headstrong 18-year-old Francesca Pacelli flees from her ruthless Mafia-boss father in Havana to the arms of her lover, a rebel fighting with Fidel Castro. Her father, desperate to send her to safety in the US, resorts to torture and blackmail as he searches the island for her.

So begins the first part of a spellbinding saga that spans three generations of the same family. Decades later, the family is lured back to Cuba by the promise of untold riches. But pursuing those riches brings danger as well as opportunity, and ultimately, Francesca’s family must confront the lethal consequences of their choices. From the troubled streets of Havana to the mean streets of Chicago, HAVANA LOST reveals the true cost of chasing power instead of love.

HAVANA LOST is award-winning author Libby Fischer Hellmann’s tenth novel and third thriller that explores how strife and revolution affect the human spirit. HAVANA LOST is a testament to Hellmann’s gift for authentic historical detail as well as her talent for writing compulsively readable thrillers.

A copy of this title was provided via Author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Libby Fischer Hellmann

Libby Fischer Hellmann writes Compulsively Readable Thrillers. Her 10th novel, HAVANA LOST, a stand-alone literary thriller and love story set in Cuba, was released in September, 2013. A BITTER VEIL, another stand-alone thriller and a best-seller, is set in revolutionary Iran during the late ’70s and was released in 2012.

SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE (2010), a stand-alone thriller, goes back, in part, to the late Sixties in Chicago. She also writes two crime fiction series: EASY INNOCENCE(2008), DOUBLEBACK (2009), which was selected as a Great Lakes Booksellers’ Association “2009 Great Read,” and TOXICITY (2011), a police procedural thriller, all feature Chicago P.I. Georgia Davis. In addition, there are four novels in the Ellie Foreman series, which Libby describes as a cross between “Desperate Housewives” and “24.”

Libby has also published over 15 short stories in NICE GIRL DOES NOIR and edited the acclaimed crime fiction anthologyCHICAGO BLUES. Originally from Washington D.C., she has lived in Chicago for 30 years and claims they’ll take her out of there feet firs

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