The Ultimate Havana: A Willie Cuesta Mystery
Another entertaining novel in the Willie Cuesta Mystery series by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
by John Lantigua
Publication Date: March 31, 2022
Format: Trade Paperback
Willie Cuesta, former Miami Police detective turned private investigator, is struggling to pay the bills when he receives a call from an old family friend. Cesar Mendoza is the blind, elderly owner of Tabacos El Ciego, a cigar store in Little Havana.
Cesar is worried about Victoria Espada, a friend from the old days in Cuba. As a young woman, she was so beautiful that cigar makers competed to put her image on their boxes. She came from a long line of tobacco growers and married a man from an old, respected clan of cigar makers. The couple, who represented one of the great cigar dynasties of all time, fled the island after the revolution, but things didn’t go well. Ernesto Espada ultimately committed suicide, leaving his widow with two young children to raise. Now, her son, a less-than-successful cigar salesman, has gone missing, and the detective is tasked with finding him.
Willie’s search introduces him to the cigar industry. Aficionados want real Cuban cigars, which aren’t available in the United States because of the trade embargo against the island, so smuggling is a lucrative business. The case becomes even more intriguing when Willie picks up a cigar that turns out to be a counterfeit Embajador, or Ambassador. The real ones were made in Cuba for Castro and his diplomats to hand out to political leaders around the world, and they’re known to be the best—The Ultimate Havana.
When dead bodies begin to pile up and men with guns turn up at Willie’s home to warn him off the case, he suspects he’s in the crosshairs of rival gangs. Set against the backdrop of the botánicas and cigar shops of the Cuban ex-pat community in Little Havana and the glittering mansions and speedboats of the ultra-wealthy, the investigation ultimately takes Willie to the Dominican Republic, where he finds the missing man—and way more than he bargained for!