Michele's Reviews > The Beggar's Opera

The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair
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's review
Dec 15, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: format-arc, own, genre-fiction, 2012-50bookpledge

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

December 15, 2011 – Shelved
December 15, 2011 – Shelved as: format-arc
December 15, 2011 – Shelved as: own
February 19, 2012 – Started Reading
February 19, 2012 – Shelved as: genre-fiction
February 19, 2012 –
page 12
3.47% "Ack. That's annoying.. ARC doesn't have page numbers :-/"
February 20, 2012 –
page 53
February 20, 2012 –
page 113
February 22, 2012 –
page 155
February 22, 2012 –
page 155
44.8% ""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."
February 24, 2012 –
page 219
February 25, 2012 –
page 264
76.3% ""No harm done." lol.. quite the blase response for what he's been put through."
February 25, 2012 –
page 272
78.61% "... is this going where I think it's going...? :O"
February 25, 2012 – Finished Reading
April 20, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012-50bookpledge

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