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Heretics
Cover of Heretics
Heretics
Mario Conde Series, Book 8
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"Padura's Heretics spans and defies literary categories . . . ingenious." —Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

A sweeping novel of art theft, anti-Semitism, contemporary Cuba, and crime from a renowned Cuban author, Heretics is Leonardo Padura's greatest detective work yet.

In 1939, the Saint Louis sails from Hamburg into Havana's port with hundreds of Jewish refugees seeking asylum from the Nazi regime. From the docks, nine-year-old Daniel Kaminsky watches as the passengers, including his mother, father, and sister, become embroiled in a fiasco of Cuban corruption. But the Kaminskys have a treasure that they hope will save them: a small Rembrandt portrait of Christ. Yet six days later the vessel is forced to leave the harbor with the family, bound for the horrors of Europe. The Kaminskys, along with their priceless heirloom, disappear.

Nearly seven decades later, the Rembrandt reappears in an auction house in London, prompting Daniel's son to travel to Cuba to track down the story of his family's lost masterpiece. He hires the down-on-his-luck private detective Mario Conde, and together they navigate a web of deception and violence in the morally complex city of Havana.

In Heretics, Leonardo Padura takes us from the tenements and beaches of Cuba to Rembrandt's gloomy studio in seventeenth-century Amsterdam, telling the story of people forced to choose between the tenets of their faith and the realities of the world, between their personal desires and the demands of their times. A grand detective story and a moving historical drama, Padura's novel is as compelling, mysterious, and enduring as the painting at its center.

"Padura's Heretics spans and defies literary categories . . . ingenious." —Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

A sweeping novel of art theft, anti-Semitism, contemporary Cuba, and crime from a renowned Cuban author, Heretics is Leonardo Padura's greatest detective work yet.

In 1939, the Saint Louis sails from Hamburg into Havana's port with hundreds of Jewish refugees seeking asylum from the Nazi regime. From the docks, nine-year-old Daniel Kaminsky watches as the passengers, including his mother, father, and sister, become embroiled in a fiasco of Cuban corruption. But the Kaminskys have a treasure that they hope will save them: a small Rembrandt portrait of Christ. Yet six days later the vessel is forced to leave the harbor with the family, bound for the horrors of Europe. The Kaminskys, along with their priceless heirloom, disappear.

Nearly seven decades later, the Rembrandt reappears in an auction house in London, prompting Daniel's son to travel to Cuba to track down the story of his family's lost masterpiece. He hires the down-on-his-luck private detective Mario Conde, and together they navigate a web of deception and violence in the morally complex city of Havana.

In Heretics, Leonardo Padura takes us from the tenements and beaches of Cuba to Rembrandt's gloomy studio in seventeenth-century Amsterdam, telling the story of people forced to choose between the tenets of their faith and the realities of the world, between their personal desires and the demands of their times. A grand detective story and a moving historical drama, Padura's novel is as compelling, mysterious, and enduring as the painting at its center.

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About the Author-
  • Leonardo Padura was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1955. A novelist, journalist, and critic, he is the author of several novels, two volumes of short stories, and several nonfiction collections. His novels featuring the detective Mario Conde have been translated into many languages and have won literary prizes around the world. The Man Who Loved Dogs was a finalist for the Book of the Year Award in Spain. Padura lives in Havana.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 30, 2017
    In Heretics, Padura (The Man Who Loved Dogs) unfurls nearly 400 years in the disparate fortunes of the Kaminsky family, who, in 1939, flee Nazi Germany for Havana having staked their survival on a single family heirloom: a small portrait of Christ painted by Rembrandt. The story of what happened after—how the then-nine-year-old Daniel Kaminsky came to disavow his Jewish faith and become embroiled in a Dickensian underworld of thieves, charlatans, and murder, only to leave Cuba for the United States—falls to his son, Elias, to unravel in 2007, after the same Rembrandt painting turns up for sale in a London auction house. In this quest, he enlists a dissipated book-dealer-turned-detective named Mario Conde. But as Mario Conde delves into the mystery of the painting, he unearths the secret history of the Kaminiskys’ ancestor Elias Ambrosius (his friendship with Rembrandt in 17th-century Amsterdam, the heresy embedded in the painting, and the crisis of faith that determined the family’s ensuing itinerancy) and becomes acquainted with Yadine, the young, punkish heiress to the Kaminsky legacy, as she searches for a missing friend. If this sounds like a lot, it’s still only scratching the surface of this voluminously detailed epic, which seems designed to challenge the limits of how much story a book can contain. Padura attempts to join a hardboiled mystery story to a historical epic, and the resulting tonal shifts sometimes strain the material, while still lending stylistic flair to the Kaminskys’ plight.

  • Library Journal

    October 1, 2016
    Doomed Jewish refugees aboard the Saint Louis, nine-year-old Daniel Kaminsky's parents desperately bargain for their freedom with corrupt Cuban officials by offering a small Rembrandt portrait of Christ. The Saint Louis returns to Europe, and the portrait finally emerges nearly seven decades later at a London auction house, which prompts Daniel's son to travel to Cuba and track its history. Leading Cuban author Padura (The Man Who Loved Dogs) won the prestigious Premio Princesa de Asturias de las Letras.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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