This is a study in cultural difference, in perceptions of race and racism, both overt and unconscious. Padura has a way of presenting a stereotype and making you think he is operating on a shallow level before exploding the tropes to great effect ... Padura’s view of Havana/Cuba is born of love for the people and the country but it’s brutal, realist, unromantic and all the more human for it ... Grab a Snake by the Tail is pitted with black humour, noir as the gods intended it to be. This intelligent and insightful crime novel is thoroughly intriguing. It will have you examining your own prejudices and assumptions. Conde is a compelling character and ultimately this is a very satisfying read.
...something like Padura on his very best form ... Once again, we have Padura’a irresistible combination of quirky storytelling and a vivid evocation of the city of Havana – Padura’s specialities, in fact. The translation by Peter Bush does full justice to the novel, which was inspired by the author’s work as a journalist when investigating the history of Havana’s Barrio Chino.
His series featuring Havana Police Inspector Mario Conde is so free of pretension, his characters so interesting, and his prose so bouncy one can even forget there’s murder going on ... How nice it is to watch a high-powered talent at work on a form that too often relies on flat-footed prose.
Conde’s lust evokes early 1950s Mickey Spillane, while Patricia’s father, Juan, speaks in heavy dialect... The sexism and racial stereotyping may be true to period, but they will also likely make some readers uneasy. Fans of the Havana Quartet will welcome Conde’s return.