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Killing Castro (Hard Case Crime, #51)

3.26 of 5 stars 3.26  ·  rating details  ·  423 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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'

Mass Market Paperback, 204 pages
Published December 30th 2008 by Hard Case Crime (first published 1961)
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Grifter's Game by Lawrence BlockCatch and Release by Lawrence BlockFade to Blonde by Max PhillipsOdds On by John LangeScratch One by John Lange
Hard Case Crime
69th out of 99 books — 2 voters
Wood, Talc and Mr. J by Chris   RoseThe Secret of Excalibur by Sahara FoleyOliver Twist by Charles DickensPeter Pan by J.M. BarrieJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Fictional book titles that include names
313th out of 600 books — 83 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 767)
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Dan Schwent
Five Americans are hired to go to Cuba and assassinate Fidel Castro, the survivors splitting $100,000. Two of the five join revolutionaries in the hills, two hole up and build a bomb, and the last rents a hotel room overlooking the site of one of Fidel's speeches. Can any of them get the job done?

While Killing Castro isn't my favorite of Lawrence Block's Hard Case books, it's also not the worst. Some of the characters are a little thin but each one is fairly reallistic. There's also a little smu
Dig. Some geeks are offered a twenty thousand to kill the Beard. No Tiger Kab. No Hair. No Hoover. No Company or the Mob. No Vampire.

Five geeks.

Twenty each for killed the Beard.

Sigh. No matter how much I try I can't make this book into a lost chapter of American Tabloid, but there was always that bit of Ellroy dancing in the back of my mind while reading this to keep me more entertained than I probably should have been by this curio of a book.

(separate paragraph James Ellroy parenthetical as
Sep 11, 2012 Eric rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Lawrence Block
Shelves: lawrence-block, crime
Despite only clocking in at around 200 pages in length, this tight thriller, about a group of five would-be assassins sent to kill Fidel Castro in the early 1960s, gives each assassin's point-of-view as they prepare for the task at hand -- each with their own individual motivations and using different methods -- as well as interspersing that with true biographical information about Castro and his rise to power. Not the pinnacle of Block's much-lauded work, but an impressive accomplishment consid ...more
After recently watching A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (my favorite movie so far this year), I've been itching to read a Lawrence Block novel. I chose KILLING CASTRO because I've also been on a Hard Case Crime kick lately, and it's the kind of book you have to either get your hands on quickly or risk going out of print. Plus, it looks good on my shelf next to my Bill O'Reilly books, and it'll tide me over until KILLING PATTON finally makes its way into the bargain bin.
Block wrote KILLING CASTRO on
Presented with the opportunity to make $20,000 each, 5 Americans barter/bribe/sneak their way into Cuba with the intention of assassinating Fidel Castro. Fleeing a murder rap in the US, Turner, the first of the ragtag group of assassins introduced showed the most promise with an intriguing back-story and harden facade - had Block focused on Turner as the primary character - 'Killing Castro' wouldn't have felt as light as it did while distributing page time amongst the 4 other characters all with ...more
I'm assuming that this was thrown together as a dimestore novel in '61 to capitilize on Castro and Cuba paranoia, but Block's talent gave it some real depth. It's like a snapshot of the country's mood of that time between the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis.

The story was more cynical than I was expecting. The anti-communism vibe that America had then definately comes through, but I like that all the characters are in in it for personal reasons and have no patience for the political aspe
John Marr
Early in his career, Lawrence Block wrote tons of books under various house and pen names. He can be very pissy about them, refusing to acknowledge or sign them, even claiming he can't remember writing them.

The logical assumption is that they proably suck. Which is fine. There isn't a writer worth reading doesn't regret at least some of the dumb prose they put to paper in their 20s. At the rate Block reportedly wrote, there is probably a veritable dung heap of paperbacks best left in the past. S
With Killing Castro, originally published in 1961 under a pseudonym, Block opts for a style thoroughly unlike his own but has trouble sustaining the false authorship. First off, the book is two-thirds story and one-third college term paper on Castro's rise to power, which may have been interesting at the time but reads as unnecessary historical malingering today.

This is an ensemble piece so the POV keeps shifting. Unlike Michener’s The Drifters where the opening chapters detail individual charac
This book is a strange hybrid. In the main, it is the story of five men hired to assassinate Fidel Castro for a pot of $100,000. It does not matter who kills Castro or how; if Castro is killed, whichever of the assassins make it back to Miami will split the money. Their story is intercut with a narrative of Fidel Castro's rise to power, though this primer of Cuban history is more or less irrelevant to the main plot of the book--Castro's story contributes to the word count more than anything else ...more
Bruce Nordstrom
I started reading this one because I've been a Lawrence Block fan for a lot of years, and this is one I hadn't read before. And then I noticed it was first published in the early '60s, which made it more timely, and made me remember that time, and the missle chrisis in Cuba.

What is there not to like about this book? Block delivers a very readable, exciting book from early in his career, and you can see it's a little rough, but he improved.

The plot is a little hard to believe. 5 Americans are hir
Stephen Terrell
This book is more interesting as a glimpse into the world of the early 1960s than it is as a thriller. It is like going back and reading Mickey Spillane or the Bond books from the 1950s, not so much for the story but for the time in which they are set. There are many interesting points of reference and glimpses into the thinking during the time between Castro's takeover and the Cuban Missel Crisis.

The five would-be assassins and the Cuban counter-revolutionaries they encounter are interesting. I
Actually 2.5 stars. Published the year before the Cuban Missile crisis, the then current political events playing out in this story were very interesting and that part read more like a historical mystery. I’ll also admit that noir is not my favorite genre so while I cannot say Killing Castro was a terrific mystery it was an intriguing look at an era fast fading from memory.
A load of early Sixties hokum about a ragtag group of mercenaries uglier than The A-Team paid to go to Cuba to kill Castro. I don't believe for a second Mr. Block was serious when he wrote this Argosy Magazine trash but it's amazing how many wack-jobs take this crap seriously.
This book was awful and took me less than 3 hours to read.
Clumsy dialogue, no plot (seriously. none.), a mediocre account of (both) Cuban Revolution(s), and plain-old shitty writing.

I felt absolutely nothing for any of the characters.
I want my 3 hours back.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Fidel Castro Assassinated (1961)(aka Killing Castro (2009)) was written by the prolific Lawrence Block under the pseudonym of Lee Duncan. The novel was overtaken by reality in the subsequent history of Castro and Cuba.

Thriller - In the time after the Bay of Pigs but before the Cuban Missile crisis, five Americans are recruited and sent to Cuba in three teams to assassinate Castro for a $100,000 jackpot. A hitman, an idealist, a murderer seeking getaway money, a young man revenging his brother, a
Five men, each with their own motives and reasoning, are hired by Cuban expatriates and rebels to kill Fidel Castro. If any one of them succeeds, all the survivors are paid $20,000. The whole plot resides on a shoe-string budget—some of the would-be killers have to get into Cuba on their own power and dime—as well as the assumption that any of the five will be able to do the dirty deed. That thin premise builds up a tense two-hundred page story.

As each of the characters’ motives are revealed, an
Block, Lawrence. KILLING CASTRO. (1961/2009). ****. This latest issue from Hard Case Crime is really a reprint of a book that Block released in 1961. Of course, back then he issued it under a pseudonym, “Lee Duncan,” a name he had never used before and has never used since. The original title of this PBO was, “Fidel Castro Assassinated.” Larry Block is a slippery character, and I have been reading and collecting his books for the last forty years. He never reveals the titles or pen names of his ...more
Most Hard Case Crime titles are quick reads, and this one is no exception. The most interesting aspect of the book is its history: written by Block under a psuedonym he never used again (the cover text doesn't tell us what that name was, and I'm too lazy to go find out right now), and out of print for close to 50 years. The book was written after Castro came to power but a year before the Cuban Missle Crisis. Block alternates the fictional story of 5 average Americans hired to sneak into Cuba an ...more
Damn good international-political-crime thriller by the damn good Lawrence Block. Follows a number of important characters through a fairly short book, so it feels much like a series of intertwined novellas. But whatever you call it, I loved it. It's fantastically sleazy, violent as hell and lit up with a twelve-pack of nasty. This is utterly hard-boiled stuff -- bitter and beautiful.

Block wrote this in 1961 and it feels remarkably alive to read it today. It's particularly interesting viewed alo
Jonathan Lu
I picked this book up expecting it to detail the 638 ways that the CIA has attempted to assassinate Castro (If avoiding assassination was an Olympic Sport, Id be a gold medalist), though its actually a fiction story about a hypothetical what could have happened on one of those attempts. Still, just based on the subject matter, I couldnt put it down and breezed through quickly somewhere between flying over Hawaii and Fiji. A highly plausible story written ~20years ago that really develops well th ...more
Steven Kent
I was going to make a joke about this book not being a representative chip off the old (Lawrence) "Block," but I have changed my mind. As I am in a mind for mangled platitudes, I will say instead that the book did not fall far from the tree, and then it slid down the hill, fell into the stream, got washed into the river which carried it out to sea and it finally ended up in Havana.

Lawrence Block is a great crime writer. He creates well crafted characters, has a fabulous sense of humor (at least
A couple of the Hard Case Crime books have a tendency to not actually be crime books. This is one of those. Some of the characters in the novel may be criminals (and some, also, awful people), but the novel is more of an adventure story than anything else.
Here we have a group of characters moving from various motivations and directions towards an assassination of Fidel Castro. The main interest of this book, to me, is that, originally published pre-Cuban missile crisis, it is sort of a historica
David Caldwell
Originally written in 1961 as Castro Assassinated under the pseudonym Duncan Lee.This was the only time Lawrence Block has used this pseudonym.It was originally published the year before the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Five men undertake the mission to kill Fidel Castro.Each man will get $20,000 upon completion of their mission.Each man has undertaken this task for their own reasons.The man on the run from a double murder who needs the money to start over in South America.The man who carries his own de
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 ...more
Martin Hill
Five men are recruited by a rich Cuban refugee to kill Fidel Castro, the new dictator of Cuba. They take job for different reasons: greed, adventure, revenge. This is the plot of Lawrence Block’s 1959 thriller, Killing Castro.

Published just the year before the 1960 Cuban Missile Crisis, Killing Castro reads today like an alternative history novel. The suspense is tight, action aplenty, and the surprisingly abrupt ending will leave you hanging. A good, quick read. So light up that Cubano and pour
Did not like the ending at all. It was interesting to read since this was written in 1961. I was a child then and I remember the Bay of Pigs (though of course at the time I didn't understand it at all) and being scared to death. I am a huge fan of Lawrence Block and this is not one of his best. Far from it.
It's the early 1960s, and expatriate Cubans in Florida have hired five Americans--ranging from a professional bounty hunter to a guy trying to outrun a murder rap to a bank clerk who wants to do something before his cancer kicks in--to assassinate Fidel Castro. There isn't exactly a lot of plot here: Block tracks the five guy's efforts, with alternate chapters recounting Castro's rise to power, in quick, broad strokes. The prose isn't that great, but it isn't that bad, either: You can tell that ...more
Benjamin Zapata
This book was a surprise,....I love Lawrence Block,he's one of my favorite mystery writers,a true master of the genre. But to read one of his earliers effort is a true joy,tho it don't come close to his best work. This breathtaking thriller,originally published the year(1961) before the Cuban Missile Crisis under a pen name(Lee Duncan) he only used this once,and under a different title(Fidel Castro Assasinated),is about five men who are assembled in Florida and offered $20,000 apiece to kill Cas ...more
Buddy Draper
Block is a good author and this is his book from over fifty years ago, imagining what might have happened if five people had agreed to go to Cuba and try to kill Castro. Block described Castro’s rise to power and his change from a desire for democracy to paranoia for power, which made me wonder how accurate it was.
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Block is in the best tradition of Chandler/Cain 1 7 Apr 07, 2009 10:27AM  
  • The Murderer Vine (Hard Case Crime #43)
  • Honey in his Mouth (Hard Case Crime, #60)
  • The Peddler (Hard Case Crime #27)
  • Fifty-to-One (Hard Case Crime #50)
  • Plunder of the Sun (Hard Case Crime #10)
  • Casino Moon (Hard Case Crime #55)
  • Fake I.D.
  • House Dick (Hard Case Crime #54)
  • Baby Moll
  • The Dead Man's Brother (Hard Case Crime #52)
  • Gun Work (Hard Case Crime #49)
  • Dutch Uncle (Hard Case Crime #12)
  • The Max (Max & Angela, #3)
  • Passport To Peril (Hard Case Crime #57)
  • The Wounded and the Slain
  • Quarry in the Middle (Quarry #9)
  • Shooting Star/Spiderweb (Hard Case Crime #42)
  • The Gutter and the Grave (Hard Case Crime #15)
Received the Shamus Award, "The Eye" (Lifetime achievment award) in 2002.

From his web site:

I'm told every good author website needs a bio, so here's mine:

"Lawrence Block's novels range from the urban noir of Matthew Scudder (A Drop of the Hard Stuff) to the urbane effervescence of Bernie Rhodenbarr (The Burglar on the Prowl), while other characters include the globe-trotting insomniac Evan Tanne
More about Lawrence Block...
The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder, #1) Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder, #5) When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matthew Scudder, #6) Hit Man (Keller, #1) Burglars Can't Be Choosers (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #1)

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