The Bottom Line: A jaw-dropping destination thriller featuring exotic locations, mortally divisive characters and a won’t-see-it-coming twist.
Havana Hangover begins in Miami International Airport in 2016, as 30-year-old attorney Tanner Ford and estranged best friend Jackson Swift are about to board a flight to Cuba. From the beginning, it’s clear that something is badly amiss. First, the pair fly into Cuba’s beach resort town, Varadero, instead of their destination, Havana, based on dubious advice from their tour guide. Next, the man waiting at the airport for them, Ronaldo, dismisses their itinerary, saying he’ll show them “the real Cuba.”
And things get real rather quickly. After getting separated from Jackson at a bar, Tanner is seduced by a sexy local musician who dissuades him from searching for his friend with a single line: “Can’t he take care of himself?” The next day, Tanner wakes to find a series of texts that end with one harrowing phrase: “HELP ME!”
What follows is a stunning conspiracy that starts with Jackson’s abduction and quickly veers into darker territory and far higher stakes.
From the very first chapter, author Randy Richardson introduces reconnection and healing as themes. On a personal level, Tanner and Jackson went to law school together, only to have love come between them as Jackson ended up marrying Tanner’s ex-girlfriend, Anabel. But Richardson’s themes go far beyond ordinary interpersonal relationships. The book begins about a week before the 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. From the get-go, it’s clear that the two support different candidates, with Jackson even volunteering that he’s got a lot of money riding on the outcome. As the story progresses, the election – and a mysterious connection to voting machines – takes center stage. All that, against the backdrop of a country with tenuous diplomatic relations with the U.S., makes for great reading.
As the U.S. Embassy and other international players get involved, readers will become increasingly captivated by the unfolding conspiracy at play. Fans of destination thrillers who enjoy deep interpersonal character development in an exotic location will fall hard for Havana Hangover.