The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura

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The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A seriously weighty tome, Padura has written a sweeping, Tolstoy-like epic that centres around the assassination of Leon Trotsky. Whilst it does educate, it still manages to entertain, and tells the three arcing stories that tie together in dramatic fashion.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 576 Date: December 2014
Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press
ISBN: 9781908524447

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In Cuba, a mysterious man walks on the beach, always with two Russian wolfhounds. Watched by a writer, he soon comes to share his story, and it becomes clear that he is Ramon Mercader - the man who killed Trotsky.

From there, the story takes in Europe, Russia, the Spanish Civil War, and then the final, brutal, assassination. In between, we learn of the training that Mercader underwent, his hunt for Trotsky, and also of the chase for Trotsky that was being led by Stalin. The writer of the story slowly becomes enlightened by the tale - having spent his life living in a Cuba that discouraged intelligent thought.

There is a huge amount to take in in this book - it's a very weighty book, both in terms of content and literal size. It took me quite some time to be fully engaged by it - although the writing is good, and the translation excellent, it's certainly a slow burner. However, what follows is so strange that it could only be fact - and the circumstances surrounding Mercander's training are a great read. This book takes historical figures and gives them life - Trotsky and Stalin feel like they could step off the page.

In addition, I knew very little about the circumstances in Cuba towards the latter half of the 20th Century, and this book illuminates them in fascinating detail. In fact, Ivan - the writer, is possibly the strongest and most likeable character of them all, as he discovers the truth about the regime that surrounds him.

Whilst certainly an effort to read, The Man Who Loved Dogs is a great historical novel, that really seems to have a sense of importance. I'd recommend it to those who have an interest in history, as it is helpful to know some basic details about the real life characters who show up in the book

The main thing this book made me want to do was go out and read more about communism in Cuba, and about the assasination of Trotsky (again, another tale so bizarre that it could only be fact). It's a very good read - although pick it up knowing that you're going to have to set some serious time aside to finish it!

Many thanks to Bitter Lemon Press for the copy

Restless by William Boyd is another novel that takes fictional characters into real life events - wonderfully written, and with similar tales of spies to The Man Who Loved Dogs

The Fear Index by Robert Harris is a more contemporary thriller that also looks at corruption - and thrills whilst also examining the fabric of a society.

Buy The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura at

Buy The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura at


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