The author of novels, short stories, and essays, Padura is creator of the detective Mario Conde, a popular figure in Spanish-language noir. The International Association of Crime Writers awarded him the Hammett Prize in 1998, and he also received Spain's prestigious Café Gijón award in 1995. Originally published in 1997, this novel takes the protagonist into the world of transvestites, homosexuals, and political connections. When Conde investigates the murder of a transvestite, the son of an important political government figure, he gets drawn into the marginal world of homosexuals by the dead man's partner and finds himself attracted to it, leading him to question his own identity. Perhaps more than the plot itself, the novel is interesting as a character analysis and a portrayal of society. The premise isn't new, and the plot is slightly freeform. Nevertheless, as part of the work of one of Cuba's best-known contemporary novelists, it is a desirable addition to large library collections.Kathleen March, Univ. of Maine, Orono
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