Greg's Reviews > Killing Castro

Killing Castro by Lawrence Block
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Oct 29, 11

bookshelves: hard-case, crime-fiction
Read from October 25 to 27, 2011

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 aside: I'm sure everyone knows that there biopic coming out starring Leonardo DiCaprio about J. Edgar Hoover. I just found this out the other night while watching TV with commercials, something I rarely get to indulge in and as a result I miss a great chunk of pop-culture. Anyway, (you see where this is going right?) if I were a Hollywood person, or just someone with millions of dollars to waste I think I would hire Leonardo DiCaprio to star in a film adaptation of James Ellroy's USA trilogy. He would take on the roles of all the historical characters in the story, he's already done Howard Hughes and now J. Edgar, so it shouldn't be too difficult to get him to be both Kennedy brothers, it might be more of a stretch to get him to play Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and say Paul Robeson, but I think it's the kind of challenge Leonardo DiCaprio would be able to handle. Other actors would play the 'main characters' of the story, the fictional FBI agents, strong men, and CIA spooks, but in the background it would be all Leo. It's probably for the best I don't have the resources to make something this stupid actually happen (nevermind the controversy that would explode around having DiCaprio playing MLK)).

Anyway the book. This originally was written by Lawrence Block using a one-off pen name in 1961. This makes it pre-Cuban Missile Crisis, and could have been written pre-Bay of Pigs, but I'd need to know what month Block wrote this to know for sure (it was probably post-Bay of Pigs, I think there is a reference to the 'blunder' in the book, but it could have been a different fuck up). The book isn't great, but it's not bad either. The particulars in the plot are a little weird. Why would these five people have been chosen to kill Castro? Who would hire a terminally ill bank clerk from some bumfuck nowhere town with no military experience? Where would the Cuban exiles even find such a person? How would such a person put himself out there to be found? I don't know. I didn't try to think of some of the particulars about how each person could have found themselves in the position they are in here. Thinking too much would have only caused me to get unduly confused.

Every other chapter is a fairly dry historical account of Castro's rise to power. One reviewer called it a book report or school paper on Castro, and that is sort of what it feels like. I want to give the book the benefit of the doubt and say that these chapters were necessary when the book came out, but that makes makes me assume readers in the very early sixties were morons when it came to current events. I think they are actually just page filler.

I recommend reading this book as a missing chapter of American Tabloid, and do your own stylistic edits to the text. It makes for a better experience.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by karen (new)

karen ghost


Greg Ghost?


message 3: by karen (new)

karen i made a comment and then i deleted a comment, and i didn't want you to get all excited that there was a comment only to come here and see that there was not.


hence. ghost.

four votes.
you have lost your touch.
go float your old reviews until you are satisfied.
rinse. repeat.


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