Lia Matera. Havana Twist (1998) 271 pp.
San Francisco attorney Willa Jansson’s mother has never balked at breaking the law, especially not for a good cause. So when Willa learns her mother has flouted federal regulations and gone off to Cuba, she figures it’s just a harmless pilgrimage to lefty Graceland. But when her mother doesn’t return with the rest of her peacenik tour group, Willa fears the feds might consider the trip “trading with the enemy”—with a penalty of ten years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Worse, her mother’s bleeding heart may finally have gotten her into more trouble than she can get herself out of. Willa risks her career and passport by rushing to Cuba to retrace her mother’s steps. But she finds that nothing there is quite as it seems. Following clues to neighborhoods tourists never see, through secret tunnels beneath the street, and into the finest luxury hotels, Willa is manipulated, misled, and nearly arrested. And in the meantime, newfound reporter friends—or are they CIA agents? —disappear as suddenly and inexplicably as her mother did. Soon the U.S. State Department, the Cuban Interior Ministry, and Willa’s old flame, San Francisco Homicide Lieutenant Don Surgelato, get into the act. But politics and police work are a poor substitute for those things only a daughter would know. So, in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Willa follows her mother’s trail from Havana to Mexico City, from California back to Havana...all the while keeping barely one step ahead of two angry governments and at least one ruthless killer.