For over 500 tightly packed pages here, Padura manages to sustain his signature tone of wry, elegant cool as he juggles the demands of a story that oscillates between Cuba in the 1930s and the present ... Heretics spans and defies literary categories. All of which would only be of ho-hum technical interest if Heretics weren't also an arresting novel about fanaticism, anti-Semitism and the long fall-out of a decades-old moment of political cowardice ... Cloaked within familiar narrative conventions, Padura's ingenious novel is something of a heretic itself: by turns playful, dark, and moving, it traces the great psychic costs — and rewards — that come from nestling so deeply into dogma that nothing is permitted to trigger doubt.
...[an] ample feast of a historical novel ... Mr. Padura displays a painter’s eye worthy of his expansive canvas, which includes Dutch burghers in 1647, Jewish refugees escaping Hitler, Cuban baseball fans in the 1950s and disaffected Havana youth of the mid-2000s. This rich prose-panorama proves to be as much a spiritual meditation and a paean to individual freedom as it is a murder mystery and a treasure hunt.
...what holds everything together is Conde. His goofy cool, his self-destruction and generosity, his obsessions and his premonitions. Heretics can drag when Conde is not on the page, but it winks by like sun on chrome when he is. And besides all of Padura's beautiful words, all those gorgeous sentences loaded down with strangeness and terrible history, it's the waiting for Conde to come slouching and cursing back onto the page — embodying the link between past and present, goodness and evil — that is the primary joy in Heretics' darkest places.