Review of The Beggar’s Opera in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix!

I have just enough time today to post up this great new review of The Beggar’s Opera from the Saskatoon Star Phoenix!

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Ottawa lawyer Peggy Blair introduces a most unusual policeman, Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, working in a poor and crumbling Cuba that barely resembles the island that lures Canadian tourists. Even the police lack many of the essentials of their jobs, thanks in part to the U. S embargo: cars have too little gas to pursue crooks, printers run out of toner, even pencils are rare.

But tourists come, for sun, sea and, often, sex. Fidel Castro is determined that Cuba will not become home to sex tourism, but it may be a losing battle.

So when the bruised and sexually abused body of a young boy – last seen begging from a Canadian couple – is found on the seafront, the case has priority and suspicion falls on the man who gave him five pesos. Ottawa detective Michael Ellis quickly finds that the rights of the accused familiar in Canada do not exist in Cuba. When evidence piles up against him, he learns about the jails of a Third World country.

Ellis, whose wife has flown home in a rage, ending their marriage, carries a lot of baggage that makes him seem a little shady to the Cuban cops.

Detective Ramirez has his own baggage – the ghosts of murdered people visit him until he fingers their killers, which he fears is part of the dementia-like disease from which his grandmother apparently died. His talented pathologist is a midget who was formerly a skilled plastic surgeon.

Blair has created a marvellous cast and a plot that keeps on surprising. Ramirez’s return is awaited.

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