The Man Who Loved Dogs, by Leonardo Padura, translated by Anna Kushner. Bitter Lemon Press, 2014, 592 pages, £20.00 (hardback).
Putting real-life characters into a novel is a high-risk enterprise. Padura, a Cuban writer of acclaimed crime noir thrillers, weaves together the experiences of Leon Trotsky in exile, his eventual assassin, Ramon Mercader, and the Cuban narrator, Ivan Cardenas who meets an exiled Spaniard (who may or may not be Mercader) walking on a Cuban beach in 1976. The three protagonists share two features. The first is a love of dogs, particularly Russian borzoi wolfhounds, and each of their lives is dominated by the evil machinations of Stalin. And so the story begins.