“The Beggar’s Opera is full of atmosphere. It’s Castro’s Cuba, full of old cars with no gas, printers with no toner and smuggled medicines. There’s crime, albeit occasionally curious as in locals being arrested if found in a tourist hotel. But the pivotal crime is no curiosity: It’s the hideous exploitation of sex tourism, becoming the brutal rape and murder of a little boy.
“Inspector Ricardo Ramirez from the major crimes unit of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police carries many burdens along with a lifesaving counterpoint in the guise of a four-foot-something plastic surgeon-turned-pathologist. Here’s a partner with a future.
“The murder is uncovered. Cuban law provides for 72 hours of investigation. A Canadian tourist, a policeman, is quickly suspected, charged and threatened with one-way imprisonment. The investigation unravels a multi-layered web of ritual, institutional abuse, not unlike what has shamed this country for far too long.
“The Beggar’s Opera is a debut novel with a twisted climax, revealing dialogue and astute social observation on how far apart we are from Cuba and yet how close.”
Don’s entire column reviews other Canadian mysteries as well. You can find it here.