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Killing Castro
LaWrence Block
First published 1961
Hard Case Crime 2008
206 pages Paperback

Killing Castro is one hell of a great adventure novel. Lawrence Block, who has written at least three of your favorite mysteries (Matthew Scudder of A Dance at the Slaughterhouse and A Long Line of Dead Men; burglar and bookshop owner Bernie Rhodenbarr of The Burglar in the Library; and the Hit Man series featuring Keller) penned Killing Castro many years ago. This book more than grabs a reader’s interest.

In Killing Castro, set some time after the Bay of Pigs, five men are hired to eliminate Fidel Castro. What makes this adventure novel really interesting is the cast of characters: a mild-mannered banker from New England who has a terminal illness and wants to do some living, an idealistic college student, a mob hit man, a guy who is all muscle, and a guy on the run from a double murder.

The structure Lawrence Block chose for this adventure thriller is also quite interesting. Each character or pair of characters gets his chapter, including Fidel Castro himself. That Block can keep the reader focused while telling four different though connected stories is proof of his great talent as a mystery novel writer.

This novel also rises above the usual shoot ‘em up adventure novels as some characters change during the weeks leading to the assassination.

That Killing Castro is still interesting when Castro is now in his eighties shows how good a read this is.

For Block fans, this novel was originally published as Castro Assassinated under the pseudonym Duncan Lee.

Killing Castro by Lawrence Block is one of my top three favorite Hard Case Crime novels. If you like original and / or hard boiled mysteries and thrillers, you absolutely have to check out this publisher.