Havana Bay and The Fictional World of Archives

Original Novel Title: Havana Bay

Author: Martin Cruz Smith

Publisher: New York, NY: Random House, May 1999 (hardcover)

All quotations are from the Random House first edition.

Smith's melancholy Russian antihero and police investigator, Renko Arkady, who previously appeared in Gorky Park, Polar Star and Red Square, returns to the almost antipodean, alien environment of Cuba. Renko is called to Havana to identify and retrieve the body of a former colleague, Sergei Sergeevich Pribluda, who was in Cuba as a Russian diplomatic service employee. Ever the suspicious detective, Renko blunders into a plot that has even his keen intellect guessing right to the end.

During his unofficial investigation, aided by various Cuban and Russian citizens, he uses a female friend of Pribluda to gain e-mail access to Roman Petrovich Rozov, Senior Archivist, Federal Intelligence Service. Rozov enviously comments on his condition as an archivist compared to that of his tropical comrade whom he imagines to be so much freer:

And now there you are in the tropics and I am still here but not much more than a librarian. But busy, every day someone wants to declassify this or that. Last week I had a visit from a lawyer of a Western news organization demanding I open the most sensitive archives of the KGB as if they were nothing more than a family album. Is nothing sacred? I say that with tongue in cheek but also seriously. ... However, promises made must be promises kept, that is my watchword. Where society and historical truth are served by disclosure, where traitors will not be lionized or honorable reputations destroyed, where innocent people who thought they were doing their duty in often hazardous circumstances are not victimized by new standards then, yes!, I am the first man to drag facts to the sunlight. (p. 232)

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CONTENTS: The Fictional World of Archives

Submitted by David Mattison, 2000.04.19. Updated 2000.09.18.