Now this is a fun review for me to read because Samantha Ball is a member of a book club I visited in Ottawa one evening last year. We had lots of fun hanging out! Sam came to my launch a few weeks ago with her other book club members and bought a copy of the Poisoned Pawn. When she found out there was a Penguin Blog Tour for it, she asked if she could participate. Here’s some of what she has to say (and a big thanks, Sam – much appreciated!). For her complete review, click here.
Crime. Corruption. Intrigue.
The Poisoned Pawn is the second book in the Inspector Ramirez Series. The book picks up exactly where The Beggar’s Opera left off. Hillary Ellis is returning to Canada following her “vacation” in Cuba where she and her husband parted ways. She dies on the plane. This doesn’t look good for Mike Ellis who had motive to kill her. Inspector Ramirez is also headed to Ottawa after he is tasked by the Minister of the Interior in his native Cuba with aiding in returning a priest to Cuba who was stopped in the Ottawa airport with inappropriate materials on his laptop….
Peggy Blair moves us through an intricate chess game as the multi-layered plot unfolds. We follow the events in Canada and Cuba seamlessly. Her crime novels are intelligently and carefully crafted to the smallest detail with fun clues along the way. It is hard for the reader to see the big picture until the end – where the reader finds out how closely-related the various mysteries are.
Blair’s characters are unique and human. From Inspector Ramirez’s love for his family, to his guilty Catholic conscience for taking money from the evidence room to the interesting romance between Apiro and Maria Vasquez, and of course the troubled Mike Ellis. These characters are not one dimensional in the least and it’s easy for the reader to become emotionally invested in them.
Throughout the book, Inspector Ramirez continues to be visited by “ghosts” who help him solve the multiple mysteries. Is there a medical reason for these ghosts or are they explained by the Cuban culture of multiple gods and apparitions? These ghosts are interesting characters in themselves. Although I wasn’t a big fan of Inspector Ramirez’s “affliction” in The Beggar’s Opera, I was able to better appreciate the ghosts in this book and the purpose they fulfilled in Blair’s storytelling.
I love the way Cuba is depicted as both a place of suffering and one showcasing the vibrancy of life…. The contrasts and similarities between Canada and Cuba in setting and culture are interesting and something for the reader to think about….
I feel that this book picked up successfully from the first but could also stand alone as a novel. I would highly recommend it.
Note: I did not receive a free copy of this book from Penguin. I bought both The Beggar’s Opera and The Poisoned Pawn and would gladly recommend these purchases.