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'Havana Requiem' is a legal thriller with spice
Persuading the aging Cubans to sign on to the effort to get their music back takes Seeley on an almost covert mission to Havana. Trying to perform a simple task puts him at odds with the secret police, ambiguous American officials and a Cuban beauty, Amaryll Cruz, who is as enigmatic as the island nation.
"This is the most subversive music of all," Amaryll warns. "It makes practical people dream."
While Goldstein creates a satisfying legal puzzle, it's his description of a city and citizenry floating through life under Castro that gives "Havana Requiem" its heart and soul.
Douglass K. Daniel is the author of "Tough as Nails: The Life and Films of Richard Brooks" (University of Wisconsin Press).