PW Picks: Books of the Week, June 14, 2021
The books we love coming out this week include new titles by Leonardo Padura, Chris Offutt, and Scott Howard-Cooper.
Leonardo Padura, trans. from the Spanish by Anna Kushner. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30 (416p) ISBN 978-0-374-27795-6 Dressed in the grungy trappings of a crime drama, this literary tour-de-force from Padura (Grab a Snake by the Tail) offers a colorful cultural history of Cuba and the island’s historical contact with Europe that helped to shape its people’s religious beliefs. Detective Mario Conde, an aging former cop, is hired by his old school friend, Bobby, to recover a statue of the Virgin of Regla, a Black madonna integral to Bobby’s worship of Santeria. The statue was stolen by Bobby’s lover, Raydel, but when Raydel and a confederate turn up murdered and high-end art dealers begin mingling with the suspects, Conde realizes Bobby’s statue has more than just sentimental value. As Conde’s adventures lead him into increasingly dangerous waters, an alternate narrative thread follows the statue’s ownership back through time to the Crusades and the Knights Templar—a pedigree it shares with the eponymous …
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