Michele's Reviews > The Beggar's Opera

The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair
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's review
Feb 29, 12

bookshelves: format-arc, own, genre-fiction, 2012-50bookpledge
Read from February 19 to 25, 2012

This, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost

Set in Old Havana, The Beggar's Opera follows several main characters as they race against time to solve a brutal assault & murder of a young boy. It's Christmas morning when the boy is found in the water, and Inspector Ramirez is heading up the investigation. Ramirez races against the clock to secure an indictment, all while he believes himself to be suffering from the same disease that his grandmother had - seeing the ghosts of unsolved crimes.

What a whirlwind of a crime novel! I was immediately caught up in the story from the beginning, with Blair's depictions of the Havana city and way of life absolutely engaging. The writing is full of detail and research, but not over-done as to make the reader feel lost or overwhelmed with law jargon or Cuban slang. The descriptions of Havana hotspots and landmarks paint a vivid picture of the setting to this mystery.

One thing that I picked up on throughout the book, which really had no relevance to the story, was the constant mention of things being Chinese. Chinese tape recorders, Chinese table tennis, Chinese bicycles... I didn't understand why, and it really started to bug me. I think I ended up noting at least 6 instances of this, thinking that China was somehow going to make its way into this story about Canada/Cuba but to no avail. [Edit: Peggy explained that it was interesting to see how reliant Cuba was on China for so many things because of the embargo. However, maybe a small precursor would be helpful for those who don't know much about Cuba or the embargo. Learn something new every day! :)]

That factor aside, I loved Blair's storytelling and story-weaving in this debut novel. The Beggar's Opera keeps you wondering and guessing right to the end with the twists and revelations. As it's narrated by the several main characters, you get to learn new evidence and information as they learn it. The pacing is fantastic and all the breadcrumb clues that are laid out in strategic detail along the way make for a satisfying payoff.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5 stars)
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Reading Progress

02/19/2012 page 12
3.0% "Ack. That's annoying.. ARC doesn't have page numbers :-/"
02/22/2012 page 155
45.0% ""I think we have to approach this the way you eat an elephant: one bite at a time." LOL!! Such a random statement! love it."
02/25/2012 page 264
76.0% ""No harm done." lol.. quite the blase response for what he's been put through."
02/25/2012 page 272
79.0% "... is this going where I think it's going...? :O"
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