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Extended Audio Sample Killing Castro Audiobook, by Lawrence Block Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.17 out of 53.17 out of 53.17 out of 53.17 out of 53.17 out of 5 3.17 (24 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lawrence Block Narrator: Henry Leyva Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2009 ISBN: 9781482978339
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There were five of them, each prepared to kill, each with his own reasons for accepting what might well be a suicide mission. The pay? $20,000 apiece. The mission? Find a way into Cuba and kill Castro. This breathtaking thriller, originally published the year before the Cuban Missile Crisis under a pen name Lawrence Block never used before or since, is the rarest of Block’s books—and still a work of chilling relevance all these years later, with Castro and Cuba once again commanding headlines.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “There is only one writer of mystery and detective fiction who comes close to replacing the irreplaceable John D. MacDonald…The writer is Lawrence Block.”

    Stephen King

  • “One of the very best writers now working the beat.”

    The Wall Street Journal

  • “Unfailingly entertaining.”

    New York Times, praise for the author

  • “Intense, taut thriller, just as good now as it was in 1961.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Enhanced by Henry Leyva with some perspective you couldn’t get from a reprint…He makes this short thriller a pleasure to listen to.” 

    AudioFile

  • “As always with Block, a fine feel for character…an entertaining thriller.”

    Booklist

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tony | 2/5/2014

    " Republished 50 years after it's original appearance under a pseudonym and different title ("Fidel Castro Assassinated"), this pulp adventure is clunky as a story, but a kind of interesting artifact of its time. The premise is that a mysterious Cuban exile group in Florida (presumably based on the real-life Alpha 66) hires five men to sneak into Cuba and try and kill Castro. The bounty is $100,000 to split five ways, but if not everyone makes it out alive, the $100,000 will be paid to whomever is left standing. It's left totally unexplained how the five men came to the attention of the Cubans, but they include a bank teller dying of cancer, a professional hit man, a heist artist who's on the run after killing his girlfriend, a goon, and a teenager looking to avenge his brother, who died at the hands of a Castro firing squad (this last one was doubtlessly inspired by the case of William Morgan, an American adventurer who rose very high in Castro's revolutionary forces before being executed as a suspected spy -- for details of his life, see The Americano.). The whole scheme doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, since the men are brought together for one meeting, but then split up and enter Cuba a couple different ways. (Why bring them together at all, wouldn't that be more of a security risk?) The goon and the bank teller stick together and team up with a tiny small rebel band in the hills with whom they plan to attack Castro while he travels en route to a town. Their section devolves into some pure pulp, and never goes anywhere interesting. The heist artist and the teenager make it into Havana, where they hide out in a safe house and plot to heave a homemade bomb at Castro during a speech. The final plotline is the most interesting one, and features the professional hitman preparing for a rifle shot during one of Castro's public speeches. What makes the book somewhat unusual for pulp adventure is that the story is told in alternating chapters -- in between each bit of action are chapters providing info dumps of background on Batista-era Cuba, Castro's personal life, the struggle for revolution, and other historical background. This gives it the feel of some kind of experiment in educational writing, mixing action (and plenty of sex scenes) with history class. Again -- interesting as an artifact, but not the greatest storytelling. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 David | 1/15/2014

    " mmmm ~ pulpy! Not Block's best, by far, but what the heck. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deanna | 1/15/2014

    " Block's writing still is very good, sometimes almost poetry. This is an old book from 1961. It is a book that leaves you continuing the events in your head. Always a good thing for a book. Interesting idea, especially in light of events that happened in 62 & 63. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim | 1/8/2014

    " great phrasing, spare, and descriptive "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael Borshuk | 1/1/2014

    " Not as fun for me as the pulpy city stories in the Hard Case Crime series, but certainly of historical interest given its original early 1960s publication date. I'd teach this for a fun break in a course on American literature of the Cold War. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andy | 12/27/2013

    " Thoroughly ludicrous plot with some gaping plot holes, but still enjoyable just like every Block book I've read. Writing and story didn't feel dated to me. Interesting ending, this may be the first alternative-history book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Louis | 10/14/2013

    " One of the more enjoyable Hard Case Crime books, it shows a team of killers hired to rub out Fidel Castro. Since history tells us they didn't succeed, the drama is in following each member of the team and their own personal destinies. A good introduction to Block's work for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bradley | 9/14/2013

    " Hard Case Crime #51 - The 100th book I read in 2008, by mystery grandmaster Lawrence Block. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Pringle | 2/18/2013

    " Perhaps the last pages could have been a bit stronger, but this is a gripping story by a skilled writer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 melvinhiddenelder | 8/24/2012

    " Fifty years out of print, this novel is a good, hard edged, fast read. I dug it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wsprag | 4/29/2012

    " Great pulp fiction. The story moves quickly, not alot of fluff. Good stuff. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matt McNabb | 9/4/2011

    " It's hard for me not to like anything Lawrence Block writes. Could it have been better? Sure. Did he write it very early on in his career? Absolutely. It's a look back at a promising start. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Richard | 8/28/2011

    " Wasn't too fond of the ending but overall a good Hard case crime novel. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Benjamin | 7/15/2011

    " well, this pretty much lived up to my expectations from the pulpy cover. not terribly developed, but an interesting step back in history. the main attraction to this for me is that it was published the year before the missile crisis! i won't be keeping it on my bookshelf though.. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Deanna | 5/7/2011

    " New author for me. Too much sex and no character development. Strange part was listening to the story in 2011--it was written in 1961. Glad it was not a longer story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David | 2/28/2011

    " Good but not great pulp novel from the early sixties mainly interesting for the fact that ****MASSIVE SPOILERS***




    they actually kill Castro at the end of the book which I'm pretty sure differs from actual current history. Nice bit of fun for a few days read tho'... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael | 6/27/2010

    " Not as fun for me as the pulpy city stories in the Hard Case Crime series, but certainly of historical interest given its original early 1960s publication date. I'd teach this for a fun break in a course on American literature of the Cold War. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bradley | 2/16/2010

    " Hard Case Crime #51 - The 100th book I read in 2008, by mystery grandmaster Lawrence Block. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Louis | 2/5/2010

    " One of the more enjoyable Hard Case Crime books, it shows a team of killers hired to rub out Fidel Castro. Since history tells us they didn't succeed, the drama is in following each member of the team and their own personal destinies. A good introduction to Block's work for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wsprag | 11/28/2009

    " Great pulp fiction. The story moves quickly, not alot of fluff. Good stuff. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Benjamin | 10/18/2009

    " well, this pretty much lived up to my expectations from the pulpy cover. not terribly developed, but an interesting step back in history. the main attraction to this for me is that it was published the year before the missile crisis! i won't be keeping it on my bookshelf though.. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matt | 8/1/2009

    " It's hard for me not to like anything Lawrence Block writes. Could it have been better? Sure. Did he write it very early on in his career? Absolutely. It's a look back at a promising start. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stien | 6/18/2009

    " Somewhat surprising plot surrounding ugly characters. Interesting, could have done without the rape. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bill | 6/9/2009

    " Definitely an early work. Very pulp. very early sixties erotic (which isn't very erotic at all. Even the good sex seems violent.) And of course, a fantasy, since the ending ignores history. "

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About the Author
Author Lawrence Block

Lawrence Block is the recipient of a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and a New York Times bestselling author. His prolific career spans over one hundred books, including four bestselling series and dozens of short stories and articles. He has won multiple Edgar and Shamus awards, two Falcon Awards from the Maltese Falcon Society of Japan, the Nero and Philip Marlowe Awards, the Cartier Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers Association of America, and many others. Aside from being a mystery writer, he has also written a number of episodes for television, including two episodes of the ESPN series Tilt; he also cowrote the screenplay for the film My Blueberry Nights, starring Norah Jones. Block currently lives in New York City with his wife, Lynne.

About the Narrator

Henry Leyva, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, is a classically trained actor with extensive work in theater, television, film, and radio. He has appeared off Broadway and in regional theaters across the country in many plays, including Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, and Street Car Named Desire. He has also performed in audio dramas for the Syfy Channel and National Public Radio.