It’s Day Four of the Penguin blog tour and avid blogger Luanne of A Bookworm’s World really loves the second book! I was worried about writing a sequel (I think most writers are. Have we given away too much of the first book’s plot? Is it confusing?). I’m so glad it seems to have worked. I won’t reproduce all of her review: you can read it here and enter to win both books. But here are some highlights:
Peggy Blair introduced readers to Inspector Ricardo Ramirez of the Havana Major Crimes Unit last year with her first novel The Beggar’s Opera. I loved it (my review) and so did a lot of other folks. It was the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize Reader’s Choice Winner, the CBC Bookie Award Winner for Best Canadian Crime Novel and was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award!
Needless to say, I was very eager to pick up the second book – The Poisoned Pawn. Did it live up to the first? Absolutely – and more!
There are so many things to like about Blair’s novels. For me, the biggest draw is the characters. Ramirez is one of the last few honest cops left on Havana’s force (although he does borrow rum from the evidence locker). He’s dogged and determined and deftly weaves his way through the political mire of the department and country to achieve results. Ramirez also sees the dead. A victim’s ghost will attach itself to Ricardo, until he manages to solve the death. But I enjoy his friend and colleague, pathologist Dr. Hector Apiro just as much. Apiro’s mind is brilliant and his personal storyline is both unique and moving.
The setting in Cuba continues to fascinate me. The descriptions of what is not there (soap, meat and more) the limitations placed on the citizens, the city and land, as well as the customs and culture – Voodoo, Santeria and more. In juxtaposition, Ramirez’s introduction to Canada at the Ottawa airport is an eye opener.
The title? The Poisoned Pawn is a chess move. “A player places a pawn where it can be easily captured. If the other player takes the bait, his own men are exposed to attack. But the ploy is risky, because it can reveal both sides’ weaknesses……But few chess games are ever perfect.”
Blair’s plotting resembles an intricate chess game as well. She has come up with an inventive, multi-layered plot that kept me guessing as to where the next move would be.