Very nice to get this great review of TBO from someone I respect so highly! Katrina Niidas Holm is married to the brilliant and imaginative writer, Chris Holm, but she’s a well-regarded mystery reviewer in her own right. We all met late last fall at a magical little crime writers festival in Quebec City. It was one of those wonderful get-togethers when you leave after only a few days with lifelong friends. I had asked Katrina if she’d be willing to review TBO for the American market and I’m delighted she enjoyed it so much. Here are some highlights. As always, you can read the entire review here :
“Equal parts mainstream thriller and David-Lynchian fever dream, The Beggar’s Opera by Peggy Blair is a beautifully written, quickly paced, cleverly crafted novel that is singularly unlike anything else I’ve ever read.
“Blair’s storytelling style is perhaps best described as teasing. Her characters may be under the gun, but Blair herself suffers from no such affliction, instead opting to slowly, methodically, stingily dole out the pieces of her puzzle in order to create an aura of tension, menace, and dread.
“The Beggar’s Opera is chock full of challenging subject matter, but to her credit, Blair never shocks without good reason; be it sexual abuse, rape, murder, prostitution, poverty, gender reassignment, corruption, physical deformity, or terminal illness, her button-pushing is always done in service of the plot. To a one, her characters are unique, compelling, and fully fleshed, and Blair does a remarkable job of bringing Cuba to life on the page. She somehow manages to deliver lessons on history, politics, and culture without making them feel like lectures, and successfully highlights the blatant corruption, shocking brutality, and devastating poverty that plague Cuba without appearing to pass judgment on the island or its people; she neither romanticizes nor vilifies, but instead does her best to paint an honest portrait of the country – warts, beauty marks, and all.
“The Beggar’s Opera informs, it entertains, it’ll break your heart and then lift your spirits a dozen times over, and it’ll almost certainly convince you the only way you want to visit Cuba is via the pages of a good book. As someone from the Canadian embassy tells Mike after his arrest, ‘There’s no point sugar-coating things: Cuba is what it is. If you’d asked me where to go for a Cuban holiday experience, I would have told you to go to Miami and eat a jerked pork sandwich. I wish people would inform themselves a bit before they come here. It would really make things easier.’ Consider me informed, Ms. Blair – thank you, and well done.”