Bitter Sugar (#6)

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The dearest friend of Lupe Solana’s beloved “Papi,” Ramón Suarez was the owner of a prosperous sugar mill back in Cuba until Castro forced him into exile. Now an unnamed Spanish source wants to purchase the confiscated property at a fraction of its true value. Suarez wants the sexy, smart, hot-tempered South Florida P.I. to find out why, but Ramon’s lazy, no-good nephew Alexander just wants to take the money and run.

Then Alexander is found brutally slain in a sleazy Miami hotel — his last known visitor, Tío Ramón, accused of murder. Lupe’s routine journey down a paper trail now turns into something darker and more twisted, entangling her in a mysterious web of spun sugar and blood that will bring bullets smashing through her window and death to her door.


“After five books in a distinctive series set in Miami, the private eye Lupe Solano has developed a snappy style and a healthy self-confidence in her professional skills. But Carolina Garcia-Aguilera’s buoyant Cuban-American heroine has yet to win her austere father’s approval, and BITTER SUGAR gives her her big chance. Along with other exiles who lost their property when they fled Cuba, a friend of Lupe’s father has gotten a curious offer for sugar mills he hasn’t seen in 40 years. The buyout offers make no more sense than the deaths that accompany them, and Lupe’s researches into the state into the state of the sugar business in Cuba heighten her suspicions. Although the criminal scheme is obvious, the “deep and lingering sense of loss” it awakens in old men with long memories gives poignancy to the investigation and shows Lupe in her best light. For all the joy she takes in her independent life, Lupe has passionate connections to her family, her community and her history that make all her cases personal.”

The New York Times

“When he seized power in 1959, Fidel Castro nationalized virtually all Cuban industries, including the five sugar refineries that had been in Ramón Suarez‘s family for generations. Now, shortly after Ramón’s shiftless nephew has been approached by a Spanish combine offering to purchase two of the refineries— the two that are standing idle— for $3.5 million, some ten cents on the dollars of their evaluated worth, Alexander has disappeared. Incensed at the suggestion that he renounce his claim to the refineries, Ramón wants Cuban-American p.i. Lupe Solano, his best friend’s daughter, to find out what’s going on. Lupe is even more interested in the question of why anybody would pay for clear title to proprieties that were nationalized 40 years ago. Before she can make headway on either of these mysteries, though, Alexander is murdered in the Ecstasy Hotel, and the Miami cops arrest Ramón for his murder. It’s only the first of the killings that’ll have Lupe—one hand on the religious medals pinned to her bra, the other on the Beretta in her Chanel bag— jumping from her boyfriend, immigration attorney Alvaro Mendoza, to her sometimes lover, criminal attorney Tommy MacDonald.


“Surprises abound in Lupe Solano’s sixth foray (after 2000’s HAVANA HEAT) into the seamier side of Miami’s Cuban émigré community […] Garcia-Aguilera saves her best surprise until last, leaving fans wanting more.”

Publishers Weekly

“Cuban American private detective Lupe Solano attempts to help a friend of her father after he receives disturbing news. Foreigners interested in buying his confiscated sugar plantations in Cuba want him and his nephew to relinquish all claims. Lup’s involvement escalates when someone subsequently kills the nephew. Strongly recommended.”

Library Journal

“Carolina Garcia-Aguilera’s sixth tale featuring the appealing Lupe, BITTER SUGAR, benefits from her knowledge of Miami’s Cuban community as well as her own experience as private investigator.”

Orlando Sentinel

“This is Garcia-Augilera at her best. A former private investigator, she is expert at using Lupe’s questions, hunches and dogged pursuit of the case to keep the mystery unfolding and the plot driving forward.

Miami Herald

“Miami author Carolina Garcia-Aguilera continues her unique perspective on South Florida’s Cuban exile community in BITTER SUGAR, her sixth novel […] In exploring the particulars of the exile community, the author especially makes BITTER SUGAR a near valentine to Miami.

Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

Awards & Accolades