I just stumbled across this wonderful UK review of The Poisoned Pawn: what a great way to end 2015! Thanks so much to DNSMedia in the UK for posting it. Have a wonderful, safe New Year, everyone–look forward to connecting with you in 2016!
(5 from a possible 5)
Engaging and entertaining
This is a sequel to the first book “Midnight in Havana”[ed. The Beggar’s Opera in US/Canada]. If you haven’t read the first novel I strongly recommend that you do before you read this one as otherwise it will be difficult to follow in places. It was a while since I had read the previous story and it might have been helpful to have had a quick reminder at the front of this book as is often done in fantasy series.
The book features Cuban detective Ramirez and his pathologist colleague Hector Apiro. Both of them are trying to do the best job possible in a country with a lack of resources and endemic corruption. All the time they are faced with making compromises or looking the other way when things happen. The country and its lifestyle are beautifully evoked in this novel with the author showing issues by little details as well as the big issue.
Rameriz sees ghosts – in fact, he sees the victims of murders who haunt him until he resolves their murders. This isn’t a paranormal novel but rather one of magic realism – the dead people and Ramirez’s reaction to them enhance the book but are only part of the story. The author presents this quirk in a very matter of fact way and also includes some dark magic in the book but never in a way that makes it unbelievable.
In this novel Rameriz goes to Canada to pursue the extradition of a suspect. His reaction to the foreign country and its capitalist bounty is endearing and actually quite sad. The various strands of the story which include a dead Canadian, a murdered Cuban woman and a death on a plane tie together very nicely and the ending is very satisfactory in that it ties up the loose ends nicely.
This is a totally engaging crime novel with a realistic and thoughtful detective main character. The author includes a lot of politics within the police forces of the two countries and also Cuban Politics to weave a story about real people coping in difficult circumstances and trying to ensure that justice is done – she is also very honest about why and when that isn’t possible. This is an engaging and entertaining novel which deals with big issues in an accessible way. It is very atmospheric with excellent descriptive writing. The characters are human, with good and bad characteristics. Excellent read.