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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
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).
6 people found this helpful
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on 27 July 2013
I really enjoyed reading this and wish the author well. I really feared for the life of poor Mike and wondered how on earth they were going to get him off the clearly fabricated case.
My one criticism is there was too much explanation at the end which, although well written and I read it, was a mark of inexperience I think. Also the epilogue, while an interesting twist, made me think back over the case and made one or two things unravel a bit. Nevertheless I'm looking forward to the next book. Hurry up with the writing of it, Peggy!
3 people found this helpful
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on 5 July 2013
This is a detective novel set in Havana around 2006. The author seems to understand Cuban politics and life, plus international politics and, of course, detective work; all this makes for a very believable read, without labouring any points (Steig Larson!). Wouldn't make you want to visit Cuba as a tourist but evokes a great sense of the place and the shock of a foreigner caught up in it. The characters, especially Detective Ramirez and Apiro, really came to life and I was constantly turning pages to find the next move. And the opening is one of the best I have ever read! All in all, a great book and I will be ordering the next one as soon as it is due.
One person found this helpful
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on 16 October 2013
This book was a little different from some of the books I've read so wasn't at all sure how I was going to get on with it. I really enjoyed it. I loved the insight into how Cuba is because of it's difficulties with the States - it's something you don't think about but reading the book has given me a whole new insight. Would thoroughly recommend it. Will certainly be looking for further books by the author
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on 9 June 2016
Not the most exciting plot (though with a few twists at the end!) but the description of the situation in Cuba during the US embargo is worth the read.
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on 20 October 2013
I found this book uninteresting in the early chapters - it read like make other novels of this genre. However, it improved and by the end I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think that the problem for me was that I found the 'hero' to be an unlikeable character.
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on 13 December 2013
I loved this not just for the setting, although Cuban society and the streets of Havana are beautifully described. The plot is exciting, with a seemingly impossible set-up, and the caracters are vivid (and occasionally infuriating).
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on 26 May 2017
I guessed our victim had killed his partner, but felt sorry for him because of the Cuban system. Punishment for the wrong crime is not justice. A very good read all the way to the very last page. I did`nt guess that . Bravo M's Blair.
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on 12 October 2013
This book kept my interest right through to the end. The central character of Ramirez with his succession of apparitions is one I shall look for again. I enjoyed the insight into life in Cuba, which of course is now all changing since the demise of Castro. The story is well put together, and you are given enough clues to guess at the identity of the main perpetrator, but there are enough side interests and surprises to keep you alert.
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on 13 October 2013
With the slightly 'different' setting of a sadly rundown Havana and the odd ghost popping up here and there, I really enjoyed this debut mystery from Peggy Blair. Well writtien and kept your interest.
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