Sunday, December 18, 2016


by Pa Rock

Cuban novelist Jose Latour was born in Havana 1940.  As an ardent supporter of the Cuban Revolution, Latour spent much of his adult life working for the government of Cuba in various departments and positions before he ultimately turned to writing crime fiction as a creative release.  Jose Latour built a solid reputation as a writer of fiction and eventually became the Vice President of the Latin American Division of the International Association of Crime Writers.

As Jose Latour's writing gained a wider audience he began telling tales in his works that did not sit well with the Cuban government and which got him labeled as an "enemy of the state."  Finally, in 2002, Latour and his family left Cuba and took up residence in Spain.  Today they live in Toronto, Canada, where the seventy-six-year-old author is still writing.

Outcast, the first Jose Latour novel to be written in English, was published in 1999 just as the author was beginning to separate himself from his beloved homeland.

Outcast is the tale of Elliot Steil, a forty-something bachelor living and working in Havana as a Cuban national in the early 1990's.  Steil was the son of an American father and Cuban mother who traveled between the homelands of his two parents as a boy and became fluent in English.  Sometime after the Cuban Revolution, Steil's father basically abandoned Elliot and his mother in Cuba as he stayed in the States to work.

Elliot matured in Castro's Cuba where he earned a modest living working as a teacher of English.  He was never able to advance in his profession because of some inherent government mistrust of him that seemed to be due to his parentage.  In some ways he was as American as he was Cuban - as he struggled to survive in the economically depressed Havana of the 1990's.

But then one day a stranger arrived and Elliot's life began to undergo some major changes.  The stranger, an older man who went by the name of Gastler, sailed into Cuba on a private yacht, ostensibly for business purposes, but his real business was to find Elliot.  Once he succeeded in locating the teacher, Gastler told him that he was a private eye who also happened to have been a good friend of Elliot's father, a man he said was now dead.   He said that he had promised his friend that he would try to find Elliot and spirit him out of Cuba.

It didn't take Elliot long to decide to flee Cuba with the stranger.  They devised a plan whereby Elliot would swim out into the ocean and surreptitiously board the yacht.  He was able to accomplish the boarding at sea and hid below deck until they were safely out of Cuban waters.  Then, about halfway to Florida, the stranger suddenly pushed a somewhat drunken Elliot overboard and sailed off alone toward Key West.

And from there on things began to get interesting.

Outcast is a gripping story of survival, intrigue, and cold-blooded revenge - a tale of suspense that does not disappoint.  It is a story of Cuba and Cuban refugees that could probably only come from the pen of someone with Jose Latour's unique heritage and background.  I look forward to reading more of his work.

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