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Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite
That Time in Havana is the first novel in the Valáiria Hernández Mystery series by Carolina Cositore. Valáiria, or Laira, is a social worker who comes from a very proud Cuban family. They are patriots who believe in equality for all. Criminal investigation is nothing new to Laira so when her brother Camilo asks her to look into a case that baffles him, she doesn't hesitate. However, she does not expect to become entangled in a mystery. Three people turn up dead and she needs to investigate why these murders happened before it is too late. If anyone is good for this investigation, it is Laira. She is not afraid to break some laws and think outside the box to get the job done. But will she succeed?
That Time in Havana is a well-written and perfectly developed story that will make you sit on the edge of your seat and hold your breath. Laira is one-of-a-kind; she has the right experience and the determination to get the job done by whatever means. She is proud but humble at the same time. The background building is handled with care and ample research. I enjoy how Laira shows different sides of herself. She is a mother, a social worker, a daughter, a sister, an investigator, and a woman (above all). She makes sure she never does anything with a heavy heart and gives her absolute best. I have never come across a novel that depicts Cuba this way. It is usually gore and spilled guts, so it is nice to see a different side of Cuba and Carolina Cositore does an incredible job of it too.