Book Review – The Beggar’s Opera (Chapters and Chats)

Great new review from Jodi at Chapters and Chats, who gives The Beggar’s Opera the full five stars! (Her review of this, and other books, can be found here.)

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With her debut novel The Beggar’s Opera Peggy Blair has woven an almost haunting novel of lives changed, and futures taken, in the setting of Havana, Cuba. Short-listed for the prestigious Crime Writer’s Association Debut Dagger Award in 2009, Peggy has been thrust into the limelight and has her fans impatiently waiting for the next instalment in the Inspector Ramirez Series.

The novel centres on the brutal rape and murder of a young street boy. The crime has caught the eye of the Minister of the Interior as Fidel Castro is set on deterring sex tourists from coming to Havana, especially those into child pornography and perpetrating sex crimes against them. Castro wants the suspect to be made an example to the world by making sure he is executed immediately after conviction.

Inspector Ricardo Ramirez of the Major Crimes Unit, Havana Division, and his newly appointed subordinate Detective Rodriguez Sanchez are tasked with the investigation to prove the suspect guilty. A task that will be challenged by a Canadian attorney hell bent on finding the real perpetrator of the crime.

While Ramirez goes about his policing he is followed by ghosts of deceased victims looking for him to solve their murders. The ghosts often try to give Ramirez clues with waving gestures and cryptic symbols that he sometimes misses, making his investigation stall, while he scrambles to piece together evidence and convict the Canadian policeman: Mike Ellis, suspected of the rape and murder. As you learn more about Ellis you want to believe he is innocent. He’s had a bad run of luck lately with the horrible scarring to his face he received during an arrest leading to the death of his partner, and the impending divorce from his wife. Either he’s a cop gone bad, or he’s being framed. It’s up to Ramirez and his lawyer Celia Jones to prove which one.

Throw into the mix a prostitute, a nefarious foreigner, an achondroplasiac pathologist and you end up with a sometimes funny, sometimes heart wrenching, and downright cruel cast of characters that will have you turning the pages as quickly as you can. Smart readers can pick up on the clues Peggy leaves throughout the novel connecting the dots between the sub-stories getting a better glimpse inside the characters.

The conclusion has a surprise in store for Peggy’s readers that will keep them wondering what will happen the next time they meet Inspector Ramirez. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long.

Once I picked this book up I didn’t want to put it down. I was riveted from the opening line until the final sentence. Grab a Mojito and find a comfy place in the sun. This is an absolute 5 star must read on everyone’s list this summer

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