In 2003, Matthew Sullivan traveled from San Diego to Cuba with a wedding dress and hopes for a future with Yarmila “Yarmi” Portal. Instead of a bride, he found a murder victim in a bathtub. With his passport in the hands of the police, Matt finds himself staying in Cuba and focusing on the name Pato Macho — his hope-to-be fiancée’s lover. Who is Yarmila? Everyone police Lieutenant Marlene Martinez, tasked with finding the murderer and figuring out the reason behind her death, talks to describes the young woman as outgoing, friendly, generous, but less than forthcoming about her views and background. I kept turning pages hoping to understand Yarmi Portal. Yarmila was a cook, a linguist, a Communist, a blogger. To her parents, Yarmi was a staunch Communist; however, her cooking blog was written in English and her primary boyfriend was American. I began to think of Yarmi Portal as an onion. Every time a layer is peeled back, every time a lie is exposed, you get closer to the truth about the dead woman. If you are interested in recent history, the customs of other countries, recipes, or character-driven stories, you will enjoy this novel. Follow the fictional blog “Yarmi Cooks Cuban,” and try to untangle the life and death of an enigma. – Guest Reviewer Sandra Hale
Don't let the authentic Cuban recipes fool you: This is no cozy mystery. Set in Havana during the Black Spring of 2003, a charming but poison-laced culinary mystery reveals the darker side of the modern Revolution.
Matt, a San Diego journalist, arrives in Havana to marry his girlfriend, Yarmila, a 24-year-old Cuban woman whom he first met through her food blog. But Yarmi isn't there to meet him at the airport, and when he hitches a ride to her apartment, he finds her lying dead in the bathtub. With Yarmi's murder, lovelorn Matt is immediately embroiled in a Cuban adventure he didn't bargain for. The police and secret service have him down as their main suspect, and in an effort to clear his name, he must embark on his own investigation into what really happened. The more Matt learns about his erstwhile fianc e, though, the more he realizes he had no idea who she was at all--but did anyone?
About the Author
Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1966. She earned her BA in English literature and an MA in Spanish literature at the University of Havana, and her PhD in Latin American literature at the University of New Mexico. She is the author of twelve other works of fiction and three plays, and is the winner of the Rincón de la Victoria Award and a finalist for the Herralde Award. She lives in New Mexico.