There has been a lot of prepublication buzz about THE HAVANA ROOM by Colin Harrison. Everything you may have heard about this novel is true. It will be superglued to your hands, and to your mind, from practically the minute you begin reading it. There is only one way that I can describe how good it really is. After opening the book one morning and reading the first 319 pages in one sitting, I set the book down, shoveled the ice off of the driveway, and ran a few errands, all the while wondering how it would end. I simply wanted to make the experience of reading this spellbinding novel last a bit longer; I did not want it to end.
The most important lesson that one can learn about life is that every act carries its own potential for disaster, and that while there are ways to cut the odds, the house holds all the cards. This is a lesson that Bill Wyeth learns, at the cost of dear coin, in THE HAVANA ROOM.
Wyeth is a fabulously successful real estate attorney, still on the ascending arc of a brilliant career, when he commits an act of simple, almost offhand, courtesy that results in personal disaster. Within weeks he has lost his job, his family and his respect, while each day tolls his ever-deeper descent into his personal maelstrom.
The unplanned randomness of his life finds him entering a Manhattan steak house --- we never really learn its name --- where he finds himself slowly drawn into the web of Allison Sparks, the restaurant's attractive, enigmatic manager, and the Havana Room, a separate room in the restaurant where entrance is on an invitation-only basis and where what goes on is a closely held secret.
Wyeth and Sparks slowly form a conversational relationship, a relationship that begins a fateful culmination on the day that Sparks asks Wyeth to represent her friend, Jay Rainey, in a real estate transaction that must be concluded by midnight of that day. Wyeth has reservations about the transaction and his role in the matter almost from th