Killing Castro by Lawrence Block (1961)

Since I hardly use this blog for anything I thought I'd take a stab at logging most of what I read and watch along with a random thought or too. If I'd have started this last week I'd have fifteen Firefly related posts now, but anyway …

First up is Killing Castro by Lawrence Block now back in print with a cover by Sharif Tarabay thanks to Hard Case Crime for the first time since it's original pseudonymous appearance in 1961. The longish narrative chapters of a band of ne'er-do-wells paid to assassinate the Cuban dictator alternate with short biographical chapters on Castro's early life and rise to power, the latter written in a breezy, opinionated style. I enjoyed these. The novel is similar in structure and premise to The Day of the Jackal published 10 years later, thought at (I guess) 50k words Killing Castro is about half the length of Forsyth's book. It's fun to see young Block's (he would have been twenty-two or so at the time) attempt at a political thriller. The biographical chapters and the narrative chapters resonate with each other giving the novel a poignant aura of idealism dashed. Such is youth.

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(Note: Block would write at least one more political thriller: 1971's The Triumph of Evil under the name Paul Kavanagh, about a coup in the United States. The original cover shows a swastika, but the novel is more Seven Days in May than The Man in the High Castle. Been awhile since I read it but I recall it being dark and relentless. Deliciously so.)

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