From time to time, I like to share the most recent reviews that have appeared on Goodreads. No sock puppets here (as you can tell from the comments)!
Lynn: “The Beggar’s Opera is an impressive debut by Canadian author Peggy Blair. Set in Cuba, we are introduced to one of the more interesting police detectives to come along in a while, Inspector Ricardo Ramirez. Ramirez is investigating the murder of a young street urchin. An anonymous tip leads him to vacationing Canadian police officer Mike Ellis. Before long, Ellis is caught in a spiral of corruption and political interference.
“This is a dark and gritty book that moves us quickly through the streets of Havana as Canadian lawyer Celia Jones tries to free her client. With memorable characters and a fast paced story, this book was a hit with me. It would have earned a five star rating except a couple of storylines were wrapped up clumsily at the end. They didn’t really add anything to the story. However, all was redeemed with the final chapter. This is a great read for mystery and police procedural lovers. Highly recommended.” (4 stars)
Ruth Seeley: “A compelling debut from Ottawa author (and lawyer, and real estate agent) Peggy Blair. It’s obvious how hard she’s worked on her craft – this is a tightly woven tale of life and crime in Havana, the inevitable tensions between not only good and evil but also between communism and capitalism, both flawed systems. Just enough elements of the supernatural to make Blair’s detective Ramirez endearingly flawed. The trail leads back to Canada at the end of The Beggar’s Opera, so hopefully we’ll get to know both Ramirez and ex-lawyer turned cop Celia Jones a lot better as they continue digging for truth and justice.” (4 stars)
Susan Thomas: “Having just travelled to Cuba, this was a rich and fascinating story for me, written in dark crime fashion. Inspector Ramirez is investigating with scarce police resources the rape and murder of a Cuban boy and his prime person of interest, with a growing list of suspicions, is Mike Ellis, a Canadian tourist and police officer with secrets to hide…
“While both characters belong to the law enforcement profession and seek justice for a little dead boy, they clearly come from two opposite ends of the spectrum; Ramirez with his eagerness for swift, iron-fisted justice and appeasing senior ministers to avoid an international PR disaster and Ellis with his failing marriage, disfigurement from a tragic accident and growing inability to prove his innocence in the crime. The author transports the reader into the underbelly of Havana with a backdrop of a punishing embargo, white beaches, smooth, sweet rum and Castro’s political ideals. A complex and entertaining criminal investigation in a Communist society and a highly recommended novel!” (4 stars)
Pip Pippin: “A new Canadian mystery writer has come on the scene to share some of the limelight with Louise Penny. Blair has written a fast paced murder mystery about a Canadian abandoned by his wife in the middle of their Christmas vacation in Cuba. It seems the marriage has been crumbling for years culminating in the split. The Canadian turns out to also be an Ottawa policeman. Our hero gets blind drunk one night and wakes up on Christmas Day to a big headache and the death of a boy Cuban police want to question him about. A quick breezy read.” (4 stars)
Ann Macdonald: “Peggy Blair makes a commendable effort. It was difficult to read after hearing her speak on radio. She mentioned how many re-writes it went through. That being said, I like her detective. As far as giving an accurate picture of Cuba, well it is a work of fiction. Will definitely look for more from Ms Blair.” (three stars)