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Queen of the Underworld: A Novel

by Gail Godwin

Published by Ballantine Books

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In the summer of 1959, as Castro clamps down on Cuba and its first wave of exiles flee to the States, Emma Gant, fresh out of college, begins her career as a reporter. Emma's avid curiosity about life thrives amid the tropical charms and intrigues of Miami. By day she toils at the news desk, but she spends her nights getting to know the Cuban families in her hotel -- and rendezvousing with her married lover Paul Nightingale, owner of a private Miami Beach club.

As Emma experiences the historic events enveloping the city, she trains her perceptive eye on the people surrounding her: a newfound Cuban friend who joins the covert anti-Castro training brigade; a gambling racketeer who poses a grave threat to Paul; and a former madam, still in her twenties, who becomes both Emma's obsession and her alter ego. Like a complicated dance that keeps sweeping her off balance, Emma's life is suddenly filled with divided loyalties, shady dealings, romantic and professional setbacks, and, throughout, her adamant determination to remain the protagonist of her own quest.


pub date: 2007-01-30 | paperback | 9780345483195