This from Jayne, who says she read The Beggar’s Opera not once, but twice. Thanks for such a thoughtful review, Jayne, so glad you liked the book and took the time to post a review on Goodreads. Much appreciated!
“The best mystery novels immerse the reader in a milieu completely, providing a cultural experience almost unnoticed beneath compelling characters and an absorbing plot. The Beggar’s Opera is one such, a fascinating concretion of physically malformed and the emotionally stunted, the Communist and the capitalist, beggars and the solidly middle class, into a single story at once rationalist and deeply spiritual. The prose paints stark pictures of life in modern-day Cuba, the commonplace of violent death in Havana’s morgue not excepted: ‘the bright slash of his wound coiled around his neck like a red bandana.’
“Then there are the Castro jokes, welcome moments of light relief amid mounting local and international pressures.
“This is a Cuban police procedural with a dying Inspector Ramirez investigating the murder of a beggar child, possibly at the hands of a visiting Canadian policeman. Both Cuban and Canadian cops have hidden frailties of nerve and perception that keep the reader from gaining a secure footing during the tension-packed week of the novel. Both are too well acquainted with horrifying crimes against children.
“Blair draws us into this nightmare crime’s unraveling by shifting the narration between them, twisting us to the point of claustrophobia in a jail cell with Mike. In lesser hands the introduction of a third narrator well into the book might have diluted that intensity, but here it works.
“Darker and more winding than my usual summer reads, The Beggar’s Opera was a never-close book that turned into an immediate re-read to let me savour more fully the layering of language and emotion. Definitely recommended.” (4 out of 5 stars)