“Short, punchy chapters … absorbing.” Nice review from the Cleveland Ohio Plain Dealer!
The Beggar’s Opera
Pintail, 344 pp., $16
In her debut novel — the first of a new mystery series — Canadian attorney Blair introduces readers to Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, head of the Havana Major Crime Unit of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police.
Ottawa Detective Mike Ellis and his wife, Hillary, have made a Christmas escape to Cuba, where Mike hopes to repair their unraveling marriage. He’s already on edge, suffering from anxiety attacks brought on by a shooting that killed a police colleague. So when Hillary storms off in a fit of anger, announcing she’s leaving Cuba without him, Ellis is ready for a drink. Then another. And another.
Fast-forward to the following day, and a bleary-eyed Ellis is arrested on suspicion of raping and killing a young boy and then tossing his body into the ocean. Ellis has little to offer in his defense — he remembers almost nothing of the night before.
Because of Cuban law, Inspector Ricardo Ramirez has only 72 hours to file an indictment, but he’s sure he’s got his man. As he unearths a steady stream of incriminating evidence, things are looking mighty bad for Ellis.
Blair keeps the action moving in short, punchy chapters, cycling back and forth between Ramirez and Ellis as the clock ticks.
Publishers Weekly called the novel absorbing, commenting on its atmospheric quality in portraying a country struggling with corruption and poverty, where “tourists are as likely to encounter requests for soap and pencils as requests for money.”