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The Beggar's Opera [Paperback]

Peggy Blair
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 24.00
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Book Description

Feb. 7 2012

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 …

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The Beggar's Opera + The Poisoned Pawn + The Scottish Banker of Surabaya
Price For All Three: CDN$ 47.61

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I have a penchant for smart, dark, literary crime fiction, and The Beggar's Opera is all of that: an excellent book. - Allan Guthrie, author of Two Way Split

About the Author

Peggy Blairwas a lawyer for more than thirty years. Her critically acclaimed mystery The Beggar’s Opera won the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize Readers’ Choice contest and was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award. The Poisoned Pawn is the second in the Inspector Ramirez series. Peggy lives in Ottawa.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved This Book! Feb. 1 2012
Beautiful, atmospheric and engaging, the Beggar's Opera gives us a different picture of Cuba, almost an insider's view. In the grand noir tradition, it also introduces a fascinating new detective - Inspector Ramirez - a man both with heart and intelligence. I really liked the contrast between the two police detectives, Mike Ellis, a Canadian vacationing in the country with his own secrets to hide and Ramirez who faces huge odds in trying to solve the crime Ellis is accused of. The story all plays out in a series of surprising twists that are entirely believable. Highly recommend this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Race Against Time in Old Havana Feb. 13 2012
Inspector Ricardo Ramirez can't shake the ghosts which tormented his dead grandmother. They follow him everywhere, sending mute messages from beyond the grave. How can he tell his wife and children that he suffers from the same rising dementia?
"That policeman should be more careful where he stands," Ramirez said to the dead woman sitting at the medical examiner Apiro's desk....She wore a frilly southern-belle dress and a wide white bandana....The several strands of beads around her neck revealed who she was -or rather had been--a follower of Santeria."
As a nation waits for a new era at the end of the punishing embargo, citizens walk a narrow line on ten pesos a month. The tourist hotels and destinations are off limits to Cubans unless they work there. Soap is impossible to buy, and coffee comes with sugar only. To manage to find a chicken for the Christmas holidays is a triumph.
Suddenly Ramirez's holiday goes on hold. Major Crimes has just picked up a vacationing Canadian lawman for the rape and murder of a young Cuban boy. Mike Ellis gave the kid spare change earlier. But he has no memory of the evening. His quarreling wife left him to return to Canada, and he was alone in a bar, drowning his sorrows in too much rum, wandering from the safe tourist paths into the dangerous back alleys of a raw but tempting world. Forensics from his hotel room look bleak for his case. Unless he can find an advocate, he'll soon be in jail at the mercy of hardened criminals who would welcome the chance to teach a lesson to someone on the other side of the law.
Canadians find Cuba a popular winter destination, but the pleasures of mojitos and white sands mask danger for thrill-seekers.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stayed Up All Night Reading! March 8 2012
I could NOT put this book down. Beautifully written, with fully drawn and sympathetic characters, The Beggar's Opera takes the reader through the underbelly and back streets of Cuba. The topic is dark, the main character is quirky, and the result is a rich, complex, and fascinating novel. Read it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beggars Opera - a great read. April 2 2012
By Wayne
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the first review I've ever written but I had such a great time reading this book that I wanted to share it and encourage others to read it. THe book is fast paced with an exciting and twisty type of plot. Many unexepected turns in the book I loved the way that it worked in current political issues like the Residential School sexual abuses. A wonderful read for anyone wanting a book that will draw you in and keep you reading hard through to the final page. I can't wait for the next books in this series.The Beggar's Opera
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great new series set in Havana Feb. 28 2012
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Peggy Blair worked as a Canadian lawyer for over thirty years, on both sides of the fence - defense and prosecution. A Christmas vacation in Havana, Cuba one year "where she watched the bored, young policemen on street corners along the Malecon, visited Hemingway's favourite bars, and learned to make a perfect mojito" provided some great inspiration for her debut fiction novel - The Beggar's Opera.

2006. Michael Ellis, a Canadian police detective from Ottawa and his wife Hillary head to Cuba for some warm weather over the Christmas vacation. Mike is also suffering some fallout from the death of his partner. There seems to be more to this story than we are intially led to believe. Their marriage suffers a blow when Hillary cuts her time short and heads back to Canada. Mike decides to drown his sorrows in one of Hemingway's favorite bars. But when he wakes up the next day, he can't find his wallet, has no idea what he did the night before.....and finds himself being arrested for the rape and murder of a young street boy. He remembers giving the begging child some pesos the day before - but murder....

Inspector Ricardo Ramirez of the Havana Major Crimes Unit has 72 hours to secure an indictment. He'll be moving fast on this horrific crime. And the possible sentence? The firing squad is still in use in Cuba. Mike's commander at home sends a female lawyer, Celia Jones, to Cuba to see if she can help Mike in any way.

The Beggar's Opera was such a great read on so many different levels. The setting itself was a major character. Blair brings to life a Cuba outside the confines of a tourist resort. A Cuba where "anything could be a crime if it served the government's objectives." Unauthorized internet access = a five year prison sentence.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Jodi Chapters TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The Beggar's Opera

With her debut novel 'The Beggar's Opera' Peggy Blair has woven an almost haunting novel of lives changed, and futures taken, in the setting of Havana, Cuba. Short-listed for the prestigious Crime Writer's Association Debut Dagger Award in 2009, Peggy has been thrust into the limelight and has her fans impatiently waiting for the next instalment in the Inspector Ramirez Series.

The novel centres on the brutal rape and murder of a young street boy. The crime has caught the eye of the Minister of the Interior as Fidel Castro is set on deterring sex tourists from coming to Havana, especially those into child pornography and perpetrating sex crimes against them. Castro wants the suspect to be made an example to the world by making sure he is executed immediately after conviction.

Inspector Ricardo Ramirez of the Major Crimes Unit, Havana Division, and his newly appointed subordinate Detective Rodriguez Sanchez are tasked with the investigation to prove the suspect guilty. A task that will be challenged by a Canadian attorney hell bent of finding the real perpetrator of the crime.

While Ramirez goes about his policing he is followed by ghosts of deceased victims looking for him to solve their murders. The ghosts often try to give Ramirez clues with waving gestures and cryptic symbols that he sometimes misses, making his investigation stall, while he scrambles to piece together evidence and convict the Canadian policeman; Mike Ellis, suspected of the rape and murder. As you learn more about Ellis you want to believe he is innocent.
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