It’s day two of the Penguin blog tour reviews of The Poisoned Pawn, and Curled up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea gave it five stars! ___________________________________
While investigating the murder of a young boy, Cuban Inspector Ricardo Ramirez uncovered shocking secrets about the dissemination of child pornography through the internet and the years of abuse of young children at the hands of people running orphanages throughout the country. Now, he is about to discover just how widespread it really is.
Inspector Ramirez has been dispatched to Canada to pick up and bring home a Cuban priest who has been found in possession of child pornography depicting Cuban children. But what seems to be a straightforward job turns into much more. The wife of Mike Ellis, a Canadian detective who Ramirez had arrested in Cuba on suspicion of murder, has dropped dead on her flight from Cuba to Canada. Mike is thought to be the culprit, but when a Canadian tourist and a Cuban national die in Cuba under similar circumstances, things aren’t so clear. Ramirez finds himself caught up in the search for a suspect that spans two countries.
The Poisoned Pawn, by Peggy Blair, is the sequel to The Beggar’s Opera, the gripping thriller that introduced us to Inspector Ramirez. In addition to Ramirez and Ellis, other favourite characters return such as pathologist Hector Apiro and lawyer Celia Jones. This book picks up right where the first one left off and continues the fast-paced intrigue right to the last page.
I absolutely loved Blair’s first book. I picked it up at a time when I didn’t consider myself a mystery reader and I was instantly taken in by the book and had a hard time putting it down. The setting of Cuba was so richly described and jumped off the page at you. And in this latest book, it does the same. Whereas The Beggar’s Opera spends a bit more time giving an overall picture of Cuban society and culture, The Poisoned Pawn jumps right in to the mystery.
This time around we also see Inspector Ramirez travel off the island, something few Cubans are able to do and when he comes to Canada he is exposed to our Aboriginal history and culture as well as our freezing cold climate (having spent a few years in Ottawa myself, I cringed for Ramirez as he stepped off the plane in the middle of winter.) As Ramirez and Apiro race to discover who is behind the deaths of three women in Cuba and prevent the Canadian government from issuing a travel advisory that could cripple Cuba’s tourism industry, readers are exposed to the horrors of residential schools and child abuse that not only haunt our First Nations people but all Canadians. And as we learn from the book, this is a worldwide problem, not just confined to the borders of one country.
What I really liked about this book is how it picked up right where the last one left off and how both of the books have built to a bigger storyline than what is in its own pages. It shows how intricately woven so much of life is, how everyone and everything has more to it than meets the eye. I can’t wait for more Inspector Ramirez!