Sunday, April 13, 2014
THE POISONED PAWN by PEGGY BLAIR
I could hardly wait for this novel since Inspector Ramirez of Havana, Cuba is the most original and, well, lovable crime solver I had met in a long while. I loved The Beggar's Opera, the first book in the series, but this follow-up book practically requires that you have read and remembered much of the first one. The plot and the characters follow well from the first story though so if you've read that one, you'll be better able to keep up with this one.
Inspector Ramirez is a hoot. He is an honest man, a husband who adores his wife but is always slightly puzzled about staying on her good side. She loves him too and likes keeping him on his toes. He was unnerved in the first story to discover victims of crimes he was investigating appearing in his life and following him around. No one else is aware of these ghosts but they follow him everywhere until he solves their case. In this story the ghost is an older woman wearing a white dress and she has a large fish knife sticking out of her chest.
Ramirez is sent to Ottawa, Canada to pick up a priest who had abused and raped boys in his care at a Cuban orphanage. It should all be easy. His first impressions of Canada are funny. He is understandably cold all the time, and worried whether the water is safe to drink. Overall it's a bit like a person being released from prison after many years and trying to get used to all the changes of modern life. By the same token, Blair's description of Cuban laws, customs, and privations are amazing to the reader. His police escort is an Indian who tells him about life on the reservation and hard times for one particular old man. That sounds more like home to Ramirez.
As soon as he arrives in Canada he is involved with another murder, that of a woman who had been in Havana with her husband, left him there, and then died before reaching her home. Ramirez knows the husband, an Ottawa cop, and has evidence that pertains to their relationship. I wondered how to tell this part of the story because it's quite confusing. Actually the whole book is hard to follow because there is just too much going on. That's why I only gave this one three stars.
Funny and sad. Recommended only for people who have read The Beggar's Opera.
Source: Amazon Vine