THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
The first volume in the atmospheric and suspenseful Inspector Ramirez series
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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Shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award 2010
Ricky Ramirez’s parents stood on the other side of the door, speaking in hushed tones with the doctors. His grandmother’s hand felt like wishbones in his small one. Her eyes were still closed and she breathed shallowly. The hospital room smelled of tobacco and anise, mixed with sweat.
He was surprised more than frightened when she suddenly sat up and pulled his head towards her by the ears. She tugged so hard it brought fresh tears to his nine-year-old eyes. “The dead will come,” she rasped. “My gift to you, as the eldest child.” He barely recognized her voice. She hadn’t spoken for days.
“What dead, Grandmother? Are you coming back?” Dead people left, and as far as he knew they never returned.
“No,” she smiled weakly. She released her grip and patted his cheek with her soft brown hand. “As much as I would like to see you grow up, little man.”
“Then who is coming, mamita?” He rubbed his sore ears. Her body slowly deflated onto the metal bed. She reached for his hand..
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“A well-crafted, Genuinely Satisfying Mystery.”
— National Post
“A bang-up whodunit.”
— Toronto Star
“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
"Peggy Blair knows the human costs of crime, and she marries this knowledge to a gripping plot in a great new series kick-off in The Beggar's Opera. Passion, corruption, danger: it's a Cuba-set mystery that satisfyingly delivers all the compelling characteristics of its setting."
—Andrew Pyper, bestselling author of The Guardians
"A riveting story that kept me reading late into the night. Peggy Blair combines masterful writing with a clever plot and an unforgettable journey into the dark heart of Havana."
—D.J. McIntosh, bestselling author The Witch of Babylon
"Blair's Havana is a steamy, twisted locale and her Inspector Ramirez is just the kind of dogged detective you want to root for."
—Robert Rotenberg, bestselling author of Old City Hall