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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blog Tour: The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair

Genre:Murder Mystery
Publication.Date  February 7th 2012
Published By:  Penguin Books Canada   | 
WebsitePeggy Blair

The Beggar's Opera - Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Where to get: Amazon | Chapters

     In beautiful, crumbling Old Havana, Canadian detective Mike Ellis hopes the sun and sand will help save his troubled marriage. He doesn’t yet know that it’s dead in the water—much like the little Cuban boy last seen begging the Canadian couple for a few pesos on the world famous Malecon. For Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, head of the Major Crimes Unit of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police, finding his prime suspect isn’t a problem—Cuban law is. He has only seventy-two hours to secure an indictment and prevent a vicious killer from leaving the island. But Ramirez also has his own troubles to worry about. He’s dying of the same dementia that killed his grandmother, an incurable disease that makes him see the ghosts of victims of unsolved murders. As he races against time, the dead haunt his every step...

"The dead will come," she rasped. "My gift to you, as the eldest child."
The boys, small beggars, chased through the throngs of Canadians and Europeans who had come to Cuba in search of sun and a taste of Hemingway. This one stayed after the others scattered. He skipped beside the couple happily, oblivious to the lies their eyes and mouths exchanged.
His hallucinations looked over his shoulder, grimaced slightly at his mistakes. They were unfailingly polite. They stayed out of the bathroom and the bedroom, and if Ramirez suggested they leave, they left. All it took was a meaningful glance.

     Real, captivating and ultimately moving, The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair is a significant addition to the murder mystery genre. It's a poignant and brutally honest story that paints a truly harrowing picture of poverty, abuse, corruption and abominable living conditions in Hemingway's Havana. It's dark, disturbing, thought-provoking, and heart-poundingly thrilling. Not by any means an easy-to-digest book, but one absolutely worth reading nevertheless.

      Inspector Ricardo Ramirez is called in to investigate when the body of a little Cuban boy is discovered floating in the ocean in the Caleta de San Lazaro. Drugged, brutally raped and killed with a blow to the head, the boy had last been seen accepting money from a Canadian tourist, Mike Ellis. Witnesses saw Ellis giving the child money, and later on someone made an anonymous phone call to the police station stating that they witnessed a man with his description approaching young boys for sex in Parque Ciudad. A pair of men's briefs had been found in his room - the underwear had the boy's blood on it. Not to mention the polaroid photographs recovered from under the mattress in his hotel room - they were pictures documenting every step of the brutal rape. Mike Ellis has no memory of the previous evening - after the fight with his wife, he spent the night getting drunk at a local bar. It seems Inspector Ramirez has all the evidence he needs to convict the murderer and close the case, but is the case really as obvious as it appears? Or is there more to the story? Is Mike Ellis a cold blooded, vicious murderer, or is someone trying to frame him? With only seventy-two hours to solve the murder case, the race against time begins. Will justice be served?

      The first book in the Inspector Ramirez Series is a taut and atmospheric thrill ride that keeps you guessing until the very last page. It's an exceptionally well-written murder mystery, set against a vividly depicted political and cultural background of Cuba. Blair writes with real understanding of Cuban harsh reality, compelling the reader with insights into the troubled society. Her knowledge about forensics, police procedures and related protocols is apparent on every page. The amount of detail is simply mind blowing. Disturbing at times, but mostly very impressive and fascinating. It's a gorgeously suspenseful mindbender, a great example of how the right approach to storytelling - scattering pieces of information throughout the novel, beautifully braiding together the convoluted threads, and diabolically building the tension and mystery - can elevate the book and turn it into a heart-stopping literary puzzle.

      Blair did a remarkable job fleshing out the main character, Inspector Ramirez, making him one of the most unique and unforgettable narrative voices in recent fiction. I found him different from all the other detectives/inspectors in popular murder mysteries. Haunted by the ghosts of victims of his unsolved murder cases, dying of a rare (and incurable) type of dementia, struggling to keep his life from falling apart, he was a very convincing and easy-to-connect-with character. And as much as I loved the intelligent and provocative plot line, I think the whole thing wouldn't turn out nearly as good without the well-drawn, complex MC. His presence in the book added a lot of character and flavor, creating a memorable, eerie atmosphere, and turning a solid whodunit story into an absolute masterpiece.

      The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair is a stunning debut novel and a very promising beginning to a great new mystery series. I'm looking forward to seeing what the author has in store for Inspector Ramirez in the next book.

Thanks to Penguin Canada we have one copy of Peggy Blair's brilliant book up for grabs!
ENDS: March 15th

Enter through Raffl below! (click on SEE MORE to see the Raffl)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Stops 
(make sure to visit them all!)

Feb 20 The Novel Nation
Feb 21 Wicked Little Pixie
Feb 23  Bookish
Feb 24 Thrifty Momma’s Tips
Feb 27 Serendipitous Readings
Feb 28 A Bookworm’s World
Feb 29 Just A Lil’ Lost
March 1 The Literary Word
March 2
Curled Up With a Good Book and a Cup of Tea

Thank you Bronwyn from Penguin Canada for organizing this fantastic blog tour! :)


Bonnie said...

I don't usually read murder mysteries but there is something about this one that has caught my attention... I'm not sure what it is, the setting - or maybe even just how *you* reviewed it Evie but it sounds really great! :)

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

Wow, Evie. I've seen this book around a lot and wasn't really sure what I would think, but your review makes this sound amazing! I love your line "Blair writes with real understanding of Cuban harsh reality, compelling the reader with insights into the troubled society", honestly this review just completely pulled me into this book. Thanks so much!

Cookie said...

This book looks amazing. At first, reading the summary , I wasn't that interested. But you're review gives more insight into it and it sounds very intense. I wanna read it now. :)

J said...

Sounds good! I can't wait to read it!

Na said...

I'm currently reading a really good suspense book so I'm still in the mood for a murder mystery. I like the atmospheric quality to it.

Deb said...

You did a great job with this review. I think murder mysteries can be the most difficult to review because they get generic in their themes. I liked your way of breaking the book down for an easy-reading audience; that is, one which is mostly accustomed to reading YA fiction fantasies/paranormal. I'd be interested in reading this book, and hope I get a chance to! Thanks for the giveaway opp!


Elizabeth said...

Neat Blog....found you on Author E.M.S.

Nice Blog.



Silver's Reviews

ZaraAlexis said...

Hi Evie,

The inspector sounds like an in-depth character for a murder mystery book. To be haunted by former victims and to be victim himself of a rare dementia is a heavy burden for any one character to carry. Looking forward to finding out what happens next!

Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez
On Twitter: @ZaraAlexis

literarytreats said...

I love crime fiction, and this one sounds very interesting!

Lindsay said...

This sounds like a book I would definitely enjoy! Thank you for your wonderful review!

Lindsay @ Turning the Pages

Stephanie Verhaegen said...

Great review. Sounds like an intense book. Really nice.

Jaime Lester said...

I always pass up books like these thinking that I won't like them. And then I see a review for the passed up book on a trusted reviewers blog, and I find I made a mistake. That would have happened with this book if I hadn't read your review of this one. It sounds like a great read! Thanks for reading and reviewing books such as these. You have saved me from passing up on some great books!

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