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Extended Audio Sample Killing Castro, by Lawrence Block Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (256 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lawrence Block Narrator: Henry Leyva Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.” 


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


Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by 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 by 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 by 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 by Jim | 1/8/2014

    " great phrasing, spare, and descriptive "

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