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Havana Lost

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  291 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
On the eve of the Cuban Revolution, headstrong 18-year-old Francesca Pacelli flees from her ruthless Mafia-boss father in Havana to the arms of her lover, a rebel fighting with Fidel Castro. Her father, desperate to send her to safety in the US, resorts to torture and blackmail as he searches the island for her.

So begins the first part of a spellbinding saga that spans thr
Paperback, 300 pages
Published September 3rd 2013 by The Red Herrings Press (first published August 1st 2013)
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Cuba with all it's beauty and tragedy is the backdrop for this family saga. Beginning with the last days of the Batista regime and continuing through Castro's rule to 2008, the Pacelli family lives through multiple tragedies.These tragedies are exclusively due to the desire to acquire and control power and people.
Ms. Hellman has a talent for engaging her reader in family and historical drama. While I did not enjoy Cuba as well as I enjoyed Iran in A Bitter Veil, I came away educated and enter
Book Concierge

The book opens in 1958. Francesca (Frankie) Pacelli is the pampered 17-year-old daughter of Tony Pacelli, a mobster who operates a large, luxurious casino resort in Havana under the protection of Meyer Lansky. Increased unrest escalates from posters and demonstrations to bombings, and Frankie’s parents decide to send her back home to Chicago. But unbeknownst to her parents, Frankie has been seeing a local boy and she runs away to be with him. Her impetuous bid for freedom will have long-te
Jenni Wiltz
Jul 31, 2013 Jenni Wiltz rated it it was ok
This book had all the elements I hoped to find in a summer read: interesting historical context, great sun-drenched location, and multi-generational family intrigue. While it delivered on the location and the history, I didn't feel a connection with the characters or the writing itself.

There are many other reviews that summarize the plot, so I won't re-state the obvious. All of those reviews are glowing, which makes me wonder if I totally missed something with this book. Still, I had trouble ea
Jul 16, 2013 Kathy rated it it was amazing
It is Monday afternoon and I am on vacation. In fact, I’m at the beach and have only been here since Saturday afternoon! Libby Fisher Hellmann gave me a copy of her new novel, HAVANA LOST, to read and review so I brought it along. I thought possibly I could spend a little time here and there this week, lost in HAVANA LOST. I just finished reading the whole thing!

Once I began reading this book, I could NOT put it down. I mostly read the book on my iPad, but when the battery began to fail, I pick
Gayle Swift
May 23, 2013 Gayle Swift rated it it was amazing
In Havana Lost the talented Libby Fisher Hellmann, author of the superb Bitter Veil, again tackles the story of a country in the midst of revolution and shows how that unfolding drama affects the players involved. Set in pre-Castro’s Cuba, the novel explores the decadence of the tourism industry, the violence of mob-run casinos and the corruption of the Batista government. Against the lush backdrop of Cuba’s magnificent natural beauty, each faction pursues their agenda with passion.
Hellmann suc
Jun 07, 2013 Elyse rated it it was amazing
Excellent emotionally satisfying Historical Fiction/Mystery! Its mature-complex --(deeper than the other novels I've read by Libby). In my opinion, Libby's VERY BEST novel to date!

Fascinating History of Cuba --with fun-flowing-storytelling! (works 'perfect' together). I've read another Historical book which take place in Cuba (interested in the topic) --but the history and story just didn't 'blend' (wasn't as fun enjoyable reading like this one). This WAS a 'BLAST!

Not only does this novel span
David Walker
Jul 30, 2013 David Walker rated it it was amazing
Libby Fischer Hellmann, multi-award-winning author of two excellent long-running series in the mystery genre, has more recently been venturing into stand-alone thriller territory. She sent me an ARC of her latest effort, the soon-to-be-released Havana Lost, and this one is up to—even beyond—her usual high standards.
Hellmann is a master in telling stories that are part-historical, part-contemporary, always carefully researched, and full of engaging, believable characters in exotic settings. Havan
R.P. Dahlke
Mar 27, 2014 R.P. Dahlke rated it it was amazing
I love reading books that take me into a different time and place, and Havana Lost is just that. The author has done a wonderful job of creating a world that is long gone and beautifully atmospheric. I for one would've loved to have been able to visit Havana in the 1950's. Still, this is a story of change, loss, revenge and ultimately redemption. There's a reason why Libby Fisher Hellman enthralls her readers with each new offering—she's a master story teller.
Chuck Briggs
Aug 16, 2013 Chuck Briggs rated it it was amazing
It's no secret that most of us reviewing advance copies of a novel are writers and would-be writers. That makes the review suspect, because if the reviewer is a nobody like me he is either going to get down on his knees, pucker both lips, and suck it up big time with a glowing review to ingratiate himself with the author or pick it apart, perhaps needlessly. In the latter case it is ego gratification. The would-be writer is looking for some kind of motivation to finish his OWN novel - or he does ...more
Aug 11, 2013 Janebbooks rated it really liked it
When Libby Fischer Hellmann went to Cuba last year with her daughter, I knew a book was in the works. And, sure enough, an ARC appears in my mailbox last month. HAVANA LOST is the final thriller by Chicago crime writer Hellmann in her Revolution Trilogy. The first is SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE about political revolution in 1968 Chicago.

The title of this novel itself is intriguing: What had Libby found in Havana that was lost? Cuban-American Andy Garcia lost a few loves in Cuba, a lovely girl and a ca
Aug 06, 2013 Mason rated it it was amazing
Author Libby Fischer Hellmann takes you to a different place and time and brings you back to the present in her soon-to-be released thriller, HAVANA LOST. It’s a mesmerizing story of lost love, conflict and suspense.

The story begins on the eve of the Cuban Revolution as Francesca ‘Frankie’ Pacelli, a headstrong 18-year-old American, flees the luxury of her father’s casino and lifestyle to be with her lover, Luis Perez. Frankie’s father, Tony Pacelli, is a ruthless Mafia boss determined his daugh
Randy Richardson
Aug 14, 2013 Randy Richardson rated it it was amazing
On my office wall hangs a vintage travel poster depicting a passenger aboard a Pan Am flight enjoying the view of Havana, Cuba, through a window. That poster captures so well my own feelings about an island country that is so close – only 90 miles from Key West, Florida – and yet, due to our country’s restrictions on travel there, so far away. It feels as though I have experienced this forbidden land only through the windows that others who have been there have shared.

In her tenth novel, “Havana
Aug 07, 2013 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Havana Lost is a thriller, a women’s novel, and a political drama. It’s a story of universal themes—love and loss, betrayal and revenge—set across a backdrop of revolution and decay. The story starts in Cuba, in 1958, and sweeps through three generations and across two continents, following the life of Francesca Pacelli.

Francesca, also known as Frankie, lives in Havana in a casino run by her father, Mob boss Tony Pacelli. Frankie seems to have it all: a college-bound fiancé, wealth, luxury, and
Jul 13, 2013 Heidi rated it really liked it
This exciting thriller opens in Havana on the eve of the Cuban Revolution. Frankie Pacelli, the 18-year-old daughter of a ruthless Mafia boss, escapes the confines of her overprotected life to seek happiness with her Cuban lover, a revolutionary and confidante of Fidel Castro. Frankie’s father will stop at nothing, including torture and murder, to get her back and whisk her off to safety in the United States.

Packed with authentic historical detail, the novel spans five decades and three generati
Jun 19, 2013 Jeanne rated it really liked it
Havana Lost is an ambitious novel by an author unafraid to tackle big projects. Libby Hellmann did an excellent job of researching pre-Castro Cuba and the effects of the revolution on the country, the people, and the mobsters who had made Havana their own personal playground. The story follows the life of Francesca, daughter of the mobster and owner of the fanciest hotel/casino in Havana in 1958. She is faced with choosing between her family and all the privileges she'd always known, and the lur ...more
Susan Bailey
Aug 20, 2013 Susan Bailey rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It came to me as a pre-sale freebie. Having already read The Bitter Veil, which I loved, I was looking forward to reading this book, Havana Lost. They both deal with revolutionary ideals, love and loss over a lengthy period of time.

I love that the characterization and physical descriptions of the main characters are so vivid that the words paint clear pictures for me.

The book is set in the tumultuous period of the struggle in Cuba for power, among Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and
Greg Jolley
Jul 05, 2016 Greg Jolley rated it it was amazing
Ms. Hellmann’s Havana Lost is a delightful and intriguing step back in time to another era on the colorful island of Cuba, with a well drawn and paced mystery. The writing has a smooth breath-like pace with concise, authentic descriptions of a wonderful and curious city. The flavors, scents, lighting and sounds are all there, enhancing the mystery and the lives of the main characters and those they live among.
I was reminded of the excellent fiction of Mario Puzo, by both the development of dram
John Poindexter
Jul 16, 2013 John Poindexter rated it it was amazing
Libby Fischer Hellman certainly researched the pre-Castro Cuba era to show the readers about the resorts, casinos and American tourists that visited Cuba during that time. Havana Lost is a story of love and war and how it affects a young girl's life. It follows a fictional mob family in the last days prior to the fall of the Cuban government and Castro's take over.

This is a five-star historical novel that will keep you turning the pages while you learn about Cuba's past and wonder about how the
Stephen Terrell
Feb 02, 2017 Stephen Terrell rated it really liked it
For me, there is a certain romanticism in Cuba in the time leading to the Revolution. That's where this novel begins -- with the teenage daughter of a mobbed up Havana casino owner. She is on the eve of being shipped out to Chicago to get away from the oncoming dangers of the Revolution. But she has other ideas, and her fateful decision sets in motion a decades long story.

In three distinct sections each separated by about two decades, Lost Havana covers three generations of women in the same fam
Jun 19, 2017 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this multi-generational family adventure featuring mobs, revolutions, war, love and murder. I learned more about pre-Castro Cuba and about Cuban soldiers in Angola. I liked following the story through the decades. I didn't like it when the good guys kept getting knocked off (just like in Game of Thrones), but the guesswork as to who would survive kept me interested. I got this book as part of a 14-book box set (Death, Lies, and Duct Tape) and this was the seventh I've read (and ...more
Nov 12, 2013 Gaele rated it it was amazing
AudioBook Review:
Overall: 5 Narration: 5 Story: 4.5

Libby Fischer Hellman was my entrée into the suspense / thriller AudioBooks, and the quality that I noticed in her other titles: both historical accuracy and characters created to bring the “feel” of the events to life are exemplary. In her pairing of work with narration, Diane Piron-Gelman is the perfect narrator, and for a twist, she has added the narrating talents of James C. Lewis: a dual narration that matches the story in both tone and pi
Kate Policani
Sep 20, 2013 Kate Policani rated it it was amazing
Francesca Pacelli is the daughter of a crime boss and has spent most of her life so far in Cuba. The casino her father runs is in its heyday, but trouble is coming. Cuba is on the verge of revolution. In the charged environment, Francesca, or Frankie, never expects to fall in love, and especially not with Luis. After all, he was sent to kidnap her to raise funds for the revolution. Abandoning her father and his heavy-handed rule over her and his piece of Cuba, Frankie runs away with Luis and sta ...more
Sam Sattler
Jun 18, 2013 Sam Sattler rated it really liked it
As the Fidel Castro era slowly draws to a close, it is a bit difficult to picture (much less actually remember) the U.S. influenced decadence of pre-Castro Cuba. The country, Havana in particular, was so shamelessly exploited by U.S. businesses and criminal interests during those years that it is little wonder that Castro booted all of them from the country as soon as he could.

Libby Fischer Hellman's new historical thriller Havana Lost, via the fictional Pacelli family, vividly recreates both pr
Kathleen Hagen
Havana Lost, by Libby Fischer Hellman, A. Narrated by James Lewis, Produced by Red Herrings Press, downloaded from

Francesca Pacelli, (Frankie) is the spoiled headstrong daughter of a mafia boss from Chicago but with his hotel business in Cuba. Frankie has been raised in Cuba. It is 1958, the eve of the Cuban revolution. Frankie’s life is on course. She is to go back to the United states, perhaps go to college, and marry her childhood sweetheart from another Italian family. But Frank
Carl Brookins
Oct 20, 2013 Carl Brookins rated it it was amazing
Author Libby Hellmann, with a number of Chicagoland detective mysteries to her credit has moved in a new direction. This novel continues that move, beginning with the excellent “Set The Night on Fire,” continuing with “A Bitter Veil,” and now this novel. Here we have a love story set against the turbulent and dangerous background of the Cuban Revolution. The story of two lovers from wildly different circumstances form the catalyst that drives this story.

Hellmann’s skills as a writer have continu
Gloria Feit
Feb 24, 2014 Gloria Feit rated it really liked it
This newest book by Libby Fischer Hellmann, a departure from her acclaimed Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis mystery series, introduces the reader to Francesca (“Frankie”) Pacelli in the not-so-distant Havana, Cuba of 1958, in the days leading up to the revolution headed by Fidel Castro which overthrew the Batista regime. It was a time that I can clearly remember, when the US and New York City in particular hosted Castro and greeted him as a hero. Frankie’s father is a mafia capo, mentored by Meye ...more
Wendy Janes
Aug 16, 2013 Wendy Janes rated it really liked it
Francesca Pacelli tries to escape from her domineering father, but he’s determined to hunt her down and send her to the USA, where she’ll be far away from the oncoming Cuban Revolution and her rebel lover. The following decades see Francesca’s rich and powerful family ensnared in a dangerous drama that plays out on the streets of Chicago and Havana.

Beautiful, headstrong Francesca had my attention from the start, and the author is remarkably successful in developing her character from an eighteen
Jul 28, 2013 Sheryl rated it really liked it
As most have said, this is a novel about strong women that spans the time from just before the Cuban revolution until the present. Many reviewers have summed up the story so I will just add some comments.

I read most of the novel slowly. Ms Hellmann has so much background information to give the reader and I felt I wanted to take the time to not miss anything. I enjoyed seeing the Cuba of 1958. Learning a bit what life was like in a USA playground. I met not only owners, controllers, but some eve
Jun 03, 2013 Kathy rated it really liked it
Libby sent me an ARE for review purposes and I really enjoyed it.

The story is set in Cuba and Chicago (How different can you get, right?) during three generations of one family. The story has family, crime, and a treasure hunt that ends badly, for the most part. This is where I add the SPOILER ALERT.

Francesca Pacelli is part of the Pacelli crime family. Her father runs a casino in pre-revolutionary Cuba, where the story starts. When Frankie falls in love with a revolutionary, her father will sto
Randee Baty
As the description says, Havana Lost is the story of three generations of a family with ties to Havana. It begins with pre-Castro Cuba in the era of big resorts and lots of American tourism. It was a time of big lush resorts, free spending and the Mafia. You can feel that atmosphere as you read these chapters. You can also feel the heat, the music and the tension in the air. You can feel the revolution building. I truly was transported to a different world and felt like I was yanked back to mine ...more
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Libby Fischer Hellmann left a career in broadcast news in Washington, DC and moved to Chicago 35 years ago, where she, naturally, began to write gritty crime fiction. Fourteen novels and twenty short stories later, she claims they’ll take her out of the Windy City feet first. She has been nominated for many awards in the mystery writing community and has even won a few.

Her newest work is WAR, SPI
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