Lantigua, John

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Lantigua, John


Born in New York, NY. Education: Graduated from Jacksonville University.


Home—FL. Office—Palm Beach Post, P.O. Box 24700, West Palm Beach, FL 33416. E-mail—[email protected].


Journalist and novelist. Reporter for Hartford Courant, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Post; reporter for United Press International in Honduras and Nicaragua; Miami Herald, Miami, FL, reporter, 1993-98; Palm Beach Post, Palm Beach, FL, reporter, 2002—.


Edgar Award nomination for best first novel, for Heat Lightning; Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, 1999; Overseas Press Club Award, 2002; National Magazine Award, 2002; Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Journalism Award, 2004 and 2006.



Heat Lightning, Putnam (New York, NY), 1987.

Burn Season, Putnam (New York, NY), 1989.

Twister, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1992.

Player's Vendetta: A Little Havana Mystery, Signet (New York, NY), 1999, published as La ficha roja/The Red Chip, Alfaguara (Miami, FL), 2000.

The Ultimate Havana, Signet (New York, NY), 2001.

The Lady from Buenos Aires: A Willie Cuesta Mystery, Arte Público Press (Houston, TX), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Newsweek and Nation.


John Lantigua, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has extensive reporting experience in Nicaragua and Honduras, is the author of several critically acclaimed crime novels, including Burn Season and The Lady from Buenos Aires: A Willie Cuesta Mystery. In Lantigua's debut work, Heat Lightning, San Francisco homicide detective David Cruz investigates the murder of Gloria Soto, a refugee from El Salvador who was shot execution-style. Heat Lightning "avoids the politics of the situation, relying on sharp observations of the Latino environment to flavor" the tale, observed Publishers Weekly critic Sybil Steinberg.

In Burn Season, Lantigua's second novel, Costa Rican police inspector Eddie Santos looks into a deadly car bombing outside the nightclub of former New Yorker Jack Lacey. Though Lacey is convinced the explosion was the work of a guerilla force, Santos suspects the club owner isn't entirely forthcoming. As he delves deeper into the case, Santos becomes involved with a beautiful Nicaraguan diplomat, a wealthy businessman, and a CIA agent. Steinberg praised the work's "Casablancan ambience and characters, and reporterly detail," and called Burn Season "another darkly gripping read." Set in Paradise, Texas, Twister centers on burned-out journalist Edward Thomas. While covering a story that has divided the town along religious lines, Thomas discovers a decades-old mystery involving oil, drugs, corruption, and murder. A critic in Publishers Weekly called Lantigua "a direct descendant of Ross Macdonald and—except for a marked lack of humor—Chandler and Hammett."

Lantigua has also written three novels featuring Miami private investigator Willie Cuesta. Player's Vendetta: A Little Havana Mystery concerns Roberto Player, a Miami resident whose parents were killed trying to flee from Cuba when he was just a child. After he returns from a trip to his homeland, Player tells his fiancée, Ellie Hernandez, that he knows the identity of his parents' murderer and vows to avenge their deaths. When Player promptly disappears, Ellie hires Cuesta to find him before he follows through with his plan. "There is no shortage of action in this fast-paced adventure," observed Andy Plonka in Mystery Reader. The critic added that "Lantigua draws a vibrant portrait of Little Havana—the physical description of the shops, homes and people inhabiting this community in Miami is real enough that reader[s] can almost believe that they have been there."

In The Ultimate Havana, a "fast-paced and engrossing" novel, according to Mystery Reader critic Jennifer Monahan Winberry, Cuesta must locate Carlos Espada, a tobacco company salesman who has mysteriously vanished. After Cuesta discovers phony Cuban cigars in Espada's ransacked office, the investigator finds himself drawn into the murky world of smuggling and counterfeiting. "The Ultimate Havana is written in the style of the classic, gritty P.I. novels," Winberry remarked, "taking full advantage of the steamy Miami setting and the surrounding Caribbean." An Argentine woman asks Cuesta to find her dead sister's long-lost daughter in The Lady from Buenos Aires. Though the novel focuses on Argentina's "dirty war" conducted by a ruthless military regime during the 1970s and 1980s, "Lantigua never forgets he's writing a mystery, not a polemic," wrote Booklist contributor David Pitt.



Booklist, March 15, 2007, David Pitt, review of The Lady from Buenos Aires: A Willie Cuesta Mystery, p. 29.

Internet Bookwatch, September 2007, review of The Lady from Buenos Aires.

Library Journal, October 1, 1987, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of Heat Lightning, p. 111; June 1, 2001, Barbara Hoffert, review of La ficha roja/The Red Chip, p. 56.

New York Times Book Review, November 26, 1989, Newgate Callendar, review of Burn Season, p. 33; February 2, 1992, Marilyn Stasio, review of Twister, p. 19.

Publishers Weekly, August 28, 1987, Sybil Steinberg, review of Heat Lightning, p. 68; August 25, 1989, Sybil Steinberg, review of Burn Season, p. 51; November 29, 1991, review of Twister, p. 44.


Mystery Reader, (May 21, 2001), Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of The Ultimate Havana; (October 11, 2007), Andy Plonka, review of Player's Vendetta: A Little Havana Mystery.