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Good start, but a rushed finale
on 10 July 2013
This opens with the young future Cuban Police Inspector Ricardo Ramirez being blessed - or cursed - by his grandmother on her deathbed, with the ability to see ghosts.
Murder victims - mute and visible only to Ramirez - accompany him as he goes about his business.
His grandmother's dementia was responsible for her "visions" and Ramirez fears he has inherited it. He bears this burden alone, unwilling to share it with anyone, even his beloved wife.
The author takes her time setting the scene; the premise is interesting and she slips in details of the privations suffered by the ordinary Cuban people as a result of American foreign policy. It is clear where her sympathies lie.
There is no humour in this story - nothing alleviates the grinding poverty of the people or the vast differences between their lives and the affluence of the tourists'. To what lengths, therefore, will the children go to earn a few pesos to support their families? This is the reason why Ramirez is investigating the brutal rape and murder of a little Cuban boy, who has been procured for sex.
Having taken her time to set the scene, the author rapidly speeds up the plot progression after the accused's lawyer arrives in Cuba. From this point, things are rushed - as if the author is anxious to realise the denouement; this is a shame and - in my opinion - the book suffers for it.
This is an easy read; the publisher's claims that this is a "literary" crime novel are exaggerated. This is Peggy Blair's debut novel though, and she has talent. I hope she isn't persuaded to speed up production in the hope of writing a bestseller. That would be a real shame.