Leonard, Elmore Cuba Libre

ISBN 13: 9780060084042

Cuba Libre

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9780060084042: Cuba Libre

War in Cuba isn't Ben Tyler's concern. Still, sailing mares and guns into Havana harbor in 1898--right past the submerged wreckage of the U.S. battleship Maine--may not be the smartest thing the recently prison-sprung horse wrangler ever did. Neither is shooting one of the local Guardia, though the pompous peacock deserved it. Now Tyler's sitting tight in a vermin-infested Cuban stockade waiting to face a firing squad. But he's not dying until he gets the money he's owed from a two-timing American sugar baron. And there's one smart, pistol-hot lady at the rich man's side who could help Ben get everything he's got rightfully coming...even when the whole damn island's going straight to hell.

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Review:

Elmore Leonard has a long track record of creating memorable characters--enough to bring life to many movies, the two most notable being Get Shorty and Jackie Brown(based on Leonard's Rum Punch). Both are pretty good movies, but the novels are much better. Today Leonard writes mostly "crime" novels, labeled as such because his characters struggle to be good in a world so full of temptation that some kind of crime is always involved.

Cuba Libre finds Leonard reaching for a broader audience than those which appreciated either his crime novels or the westerns he once wrote, which he accomplishes by combining elements of both. Ben Tyler is a cowboy who robs banks, but only those that contain money of people who owe but won't pay him--he only takes what they owe. Charlie Burke is a businessman who buys horses cheap in the west, then sells them to exporters, while heroine Amelia Brown is the mistress of one of the truly bad men in the novel and struggles with dilemmas similar to those endured by other cast members.

Begining around the time that the Maine is sunk in Havana Harbor and ending when Teddy and others storm San Juan Hill, the story is at its best when its colorful characters are turned loose in one of the novel's colorful settings. If you like Leonard, you'll love Cuba Libre, and if--for some reason--you haven't yet discovered the author, prepare for a real treat.

From the Inside Flap:

He came to Cuba to make a killing.

She came to find a purpose.  

And on an island overrun with passion and violence, they each found
something to live for.

On a hot night in Havana Harbor, U.S.  marines sleep on the deck of the USS Maine as the sound of rumba music drifts across the water.  Then, in a flash, the Maine is blown to pieces.  Now a bloody carnaval of war, nations, and schemers is exploding on the dusty, sugar-rich island some dared call-- Cuba Libre.

Welcome to Cuba, 1898--where the insurrectos are in the hills, the rich are partying in Havana, and Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders are about to come ashore.  Into the melee an American cowboy arrives with a scheme to sell horses and run guns, earning himself a date with a firing squad--until a rich man's mistress saves his skin.  Now Amelia Brown and Ben Tyler are riding for their lives, fighting side by side--for revenge, for love, and honor.

This rip-roaring jaunt into history sizzles with the passion of lovers, the violence of nations, and the wild courage of freedom fighters crying out to their firing squads: "Viva Cuba Libre!"

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Leonard, Elmore
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