With Outcast (McClelland & Stewart), Jose Latour, former vice-president of the Latin American branch of the International Association of Crime Writers, shows why many consider him a master of crime and noir writing in this stylish thriller. It has page-turning tension, countless plot twists and sharp-talking characters—all against a backdrop of Cuban immigrants struggling to survive in America. The book follows the life of Eliot Steil, a middle-aged underachiever. It starts in Havana, where he works as an English teacher, then moves to Steil’s dramatic escape to Miami, where he turns to car theft for subsistence and eventually learns why he was able to escape Cuba in the first place. It all unfolds in a world of crime, new love, greed, long-lost relatives and expensive lawyers—333 pages in which Latour demonstrates that he understands the crime novel and its reader. At times his stylized language verges on trite, and the characters are uneven: some are complex people with problems that inspire empathy, while others are one-dimensional caricatures that come off as shortcuts to an end. Despite these faults, Outcast reads like a good old-fashioned thriller, and gives insight into the destitute conditions of modern-day Havana—a beautiful image of which appears on the slick front cover.