Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
Midnight in Havana
on 30 August 2013
This is the first Inspector Ricardo Ramirez mystery and it begins with the death of his grandmother, when he is only nine years old. She passes to him, "my gift to you, as the eldest child." Her gift is the ability to see the dead and, indeed, as the Inspector in charge of the Havana Major Crimes Unit of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police, Ramirez is constantly followed by the victims of the crimes he is investigating. As well as the dead, Ramirez is aided by his subordinate, Detective Rodriquez Sanchez and pathologist, Hector Apiro.
It is Christmas Eve, 2006, and Mike and Hillary Ellis are on holiday. Mike Ellis is a detective from Canada, who recently suffered a violent facial injury, while his partner was killed. However, the holiday which should have helped heal him, has resulted in his marriage crumbling in recrimination and anger. Hillary hates Cuba and, after a major argument, heads home leaving Mike Ellis alone. When a young boy, seen begging from the couple the day before, is found murdered, Ellis is the prime suspect. In Cuba he has no legal rights and Ramirez is under pressure to complete the investigation within a strict timeline. Can Canadian lawer, Celia Jones, save him from the firing squad?
This is an assured and well written debut. If you enjoy crime stories set in unusual locations, then you will enjoy this. I had only a very sketchy idea of what Cuba is like, having never visited the country. Ramirez is hampered, in both his professional and personal life, by shortages - there are few toys, little petrol, meat, soap, pencils or even crime scene tape available. At one point, there is no possibility of checking something as there are no batteries for the calculator and the internet is banned. The author cleverly weaves her story and location together, with a well written plot and great characters. Readers, just be aware that in the US, this book was titled, "The Beggar's Opera", so be careful you don't buy the same book twice. I look forward to reading on in this series and am pleased to see that there is a sequel available for pre-order The Poisoned Pawn (Inspector Ramirez Novel).