Reviews of The Beggar’s Opera!

“For mystery fans who need a break from both our winter weather and the proliferation of Nordic crime tales, here’s a first-time novelist introducing Inspector Ricardo Ramirez of the Major Crimes Unit of the Cuban National Police. Havana is as much a character as the people in Canadian author Blair’s fast-paced story.”  New York Post

“Decaying but beautiful Havana provides the atmospheric backdrop for Blair’s absorbing debut.” Publishers Weekly

“Each of the three major characters could hold up a crime novel on his or her own, and Blair interweaves their stories beautifully; she also invests Havana geography (with its decaying buildings and rusting American cars) with new vigor by focusing not only on photo-worthy street scenes but also on the complex lives of the people who live inside the broken buildings. A fine novel and the launch of what looks to be a superb series.” Booklist, starred Review

“Peggy Blair is definitely a talented writer and her debut is impressive in many aspects: Many twists and turns, characters who, out of necessity and norms of the society, might only think about their own interests and the corruption in the system. These are some interesting aspects of a story which seems to be a great promising debut for Inspector Ramirez series.We highly recommend this book to the readers who love mysteries in exotic locales.” Mystery Tribune  (US)

“Readers will find themselves gripped by this smart novel as Blair combines a surprise-filled plot with well-drawn characters and lush details of Cuban life. A heady mix of deprivation and depravity, The Beggar’s Opera marks a promising start to a projected series.” Richmond Times  Dispatch (Virginia)

“… a compelling mystery with flawed, haunted characters that reach beyond stereotypes. Poignant, carefully crafted, and hopeful, Peggy Blair has created a new series that is worth reading.” Fresh Fiction, Texas

“The Beggar’s Opera sets the tone for a style that includes rapid plot developments and unexpected twists, with a dollop of social conscience thrown in for good measure…  a commendable introduction to mystery in an exotic land, and leaves the reader primed for a follow-up.”  Chronicle-Journal

“World-building is crucial to The Beggar’s Opera, the impressive debut novel from Peggy Blair. The book itself unfolds with an artless ease: the investigation and its developments are both compelling and convincing, a genuinely mysterious mystery that manages to both surprise and maintain its internal integrity.” The National Post

“An impressive police procedural, one that is as much about a detective facing his own dementia-induced demons as a country in the midst of political turmoil. The Beggar’s Opera was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger Award, and it’s easy to see why.”  Quill & Quire

“The Beggar’s Opera does not disappoint. It’s fast-paced, atmospheric, has unusual characters and delivers surprises right to the final pages.” The Ottawa Citizen

“Old school or new, the essential test for any mystery novel is that it read downhill, forcing us to keep turning the pages faster as we come to the end. The Beggar’s Opera does this, and adds quirky leads, an exotic setting, and not one, not two, but at least three twists at the end (saving the best for last). It’s a great start for the series.” The Toronto Star

The Beggar’s Opera pays loving and detailed homage to the unique beauty of the island nation, and creates, at last, a popular Cuban hero. Ricardo Ramirez, head of the major crimes unit of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police, could easily invade and captivate international crime television…. There are enough strong characters, dazzling locations and subplots in Blair’s book to sustain more than one season of thrillers.”  The Winnipeg Free Press

“Canadian author Peggy Blair has written a fast-paced, well-plotted mystery set in Havana, a city falling apart mainly because of United States economic sanctions but still seductive. One can only hope Blair, a lawyer for 30 years and former member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, continues her career as a crime writer as well as she has begun.” The Vancouver Sun

Full of atmosphere. The Beggar’s Opera is a debut novel with a twisted climax, revealing dialogue and astute social observation on how far apart we are from Cuba and yet how close.” The Hamilton Spectator

“A nuanced account of the struggles of two men to comprehend the sudden and unexpected turns in their complex lives. Blair nicely strings the reader along, casting doubt on what’s real and what’s imaginary, while serving up a tale that combines a penetrating commentary on Cuban life with a whodunit full of twists and turns … readers can look forward to following the further exploits of the enigmatic Cuban police detective.”  The Sherbrooke Record

“Blair, an Ottawa lawyer and former member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, makes a splendid fictional debut with the first in the Ramirez series…. Blair’s riveting, gritty tale is so realistic, it may give readers nightmares about landing in legal trouble while in another country.” The Chronicle Herald

“A gritty, absorbing read. Looking back, you can see how skilfully the author has crafted her story, even to the last surprise. Peggy Blair has a future ahead of her as a mystery writer but topping this book will be a challenge.” The Millstone

“Great characters and a great storyline and it seemed neatly tied up at page 269 – what would the next 77 pages hold? I couldn’t imagine the twists and turns of the story. It held me totally and kept me reading when I probably should have been doing something else.”  

“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.”. TheMaine

Review of The Beggar’s Opera published as Midnight in Havana, UK.

“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. The storyline is fantastic and the pace perfect….Midnight in Havana had me hooked from very early on and wouldn’t let go until I reached the end and even then I just wanted more. There’s a new inspector in crime fiction.” The BookBag (UK)

“An excellent near-impossible set-up which has the readers wondering throughout the story, plus lashings of what seems to me very authentic Cuban atmosphere. A visual, auditive treat, and an engaging Cuban cop who can see dead people.” Marina Sofia

“I am a bit of a sucker for the weird and unusual and a taste of the exotic, so when I saw this script I sat up and took notice. Set in contemporary Havana, we are introduced to the major crime unit of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police led by an inspector who sees the ghosts of unsolved murder victims who in turn is assisted by a dwarf pathologist who needs a stepladder to be able to conduct his autopsies. Although handicapped by a creaking bureaucracy, intermittent internet and a lack of pencils, the policemen’s resourcefulness, dark subversive wit and profound intelligence more than compensate for these shortcomings. A compelling mystery with brilliant characters and a fantastic setting this is a spellbinding whodunnit. But above all a book of immense humanity.”Neville Moir, Polygon

“All the ingredients of the best detective novels.” Scotland on Sunday
“A thrilling and engrossing mystery that uses the intrigue of a communist Cuba setting to add not only an interesting backdrop but real jeopardy to the investigation. A fantastic start to what I hope will be a long series.” Bookbag (UK) 
“A poignant yet pacy mystery. The major, and the minor characters, leave the reader wanting more – in the best possible way.” Book Noir 
“Canadian author Peggy Blair’s debut novel (originally published in Canada under the title The Beggars Opera) is a treat. It’s a fast-moving, original and atmospheric mystery.”The Killing Time

9 Responses to Reviews of The Beggar’s Opera!

  1. Jim Harris says:

    Longtime lawyer, first time mystery author, Peggy Blair introduces Havana police Inspector Ricardo Ramirez in THE BEGGAR’S OPERA (ISBN 978-0143186427, trade paperback, $16.00). The story is set in Havana, Cuba between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, 2007.

    Ramirez heads the Major Crimes Unit in a beautiful but crumbling tropical city. He is afraid he that he is dying of dementia because his beloved Grandmother died from that disease and he thinks he has the early symptoms. Ghosts of murder victims, mostly benevolent, who disappear when their cases are solved, haunt him. He assisted by Dr. Hector Apiro, medical examiner and pathologist, who was formerly a top-notch plastic surgeon. Another associate and close friend is Detective Rodriguez Sanchez. Together they are asked to solve the murder and rape of an 8-year-old boy. In Cuba that crime carries an automatic death sentence if convicted.

    The only suspect is Canadian police Detective Mike Ellis who with his wife is on vacation in Havana. Ellis’ partner had recently been killed in a confrontation with a man with a knife. He died in Mike’s arms after Mike had killed the knife-wielder. Ellis’ wife had also recently miscarried their first child. Their marriage was on shaky grounds and Ellis thought this trip to Havana would help start a renewal of their marriage but after an argument, she leaves Havana ahead of schedule. After Ellis is arrested due to overwhelming evidence, the authorities have 72 hours to charge him or release him. Enter Celia Jones a police department lawyer from Ottawa sent by Ellis’ boss to see if she can extricate Mike from this nightmare.

    In the last 50 or so pages, bombshell revelation after bombshell revelation, leaves the reader breathless and surprised. I can’t wait to see more from this talented newcomer.

    Go! Buy! Read!


  2. Dianne Waite says:

    Please when is your third book in this series going to be available I am so anxious to meet the Inspector once again?


  3. Dianne Waite says:

    What a dissappointment
    You mean I have to wait 6-12 more months
    See what happens when you are as good as you are


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