Midnight in Havana by Peggy Blair
|Midnight in Havana by Peggy Blair|
|Reviewer: Steve Shayler|
|Summary: A thrilling and engrossing mystery that uses the intrigue of a communist Cuba setting to add not only an interesting backdrop but real jeopardy to the investigation. A fantastic start to what I hope will be a long series.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: July 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
It’s Christmas day in Havana and Inspector Ramirez is called to investigate the murder of a young boy. All initial clues lead to one man and it seems almost an open and shut case. Canadian tourist and detective Mike Ellis is the prime suspect and is apprehended very swiftly. Ellis has no choice but to trust that the Cuban legal system with all its flaws and peculiarities will actually give him the chance of a fair investigation. Midnight in Havana is the debut novel by Peggy Blair and presents us with a compelling mystery set within an exciting setting with a legal system that really adds to the suspense of the story.
Peggy Blair’s debut has already been released in North America under the title of The Beggars Opera with Midnight in Havana being the title for the UK release of the book. It garnered great acclaim on its release across the pond and it is easy to see why. It's the first Inspector Ramirez mystery and it is a very promising introduction to the character and his world. It starts with great pace with the fact that under Cuban law Inspector Ramirez has just seventy-two hours to submit his case against Detective Ellis to keep a child killer off the streets. The opening chapters just fly by; I was totally engrossed in the characters and the mystery itself - and Havana.
The plot is great with a vicious crime to be solved that's not all it seems. The introduction of a Canadian lawyer to the story turns most of what has happened on its head and the mystery becomes even more complex and interesting. There are countless twists and turns and although sometimes slightly predictable they all work and towards the end of the book I was left trusting very little of what I believed was true, for there might always be another twist.
Although subtitled An Inspector Ramirez Mystery it is the Canadian lawyer, Celia Jones, who seems to shine for a large amount of the book. Jones often seems to be a more accomplished investigator than Ramirez and even though Havana is Ramirez’s home ground, Jones seems to know or discover where to search for clues. This is the first Inspector Ramirez mystery and Ramirez as a character has a lot of potential. He, like most characters in this story (and crime stories in general), has intriguing secrets which we learn quite early on and are left to ponder and learn more about as the story progresses. There's the potential for a lot more to be made of these secrets and for them to impact the story itself more.
These secrets are not necessary to make this book interesting and exciting though as the storyline is fantastic and the pace perfect. The Cuban setting is an inspired touch as well because it opens up so much potential. Havana almost seems to be a character within the story itself, with the US embargo on Cuba and the communist rule of Castro making everything that much more complicated. Added to this is the ever present threat of incompetence and corruption within the Cuban legal system which means that nothing can be taken for granted.
Midnight in Havana had me hooked from very early on and wouldn’t let go until I reached the end and even then I just wanted more. There's a new inspector in crime fiction and although he's not yet at the Rebus level this book shows that he has a lot to offer. The second Inspector Ramirez mystery has already been released in Canada so hopefully it shouldn’t be too long before I can enjoy another Cuban thrill ride. I would very highly recommend this book and I will be making family and friends read it as soon as possible.
For another absorbing mystery try The Falls by Ian Rankin.
You can read more book reviews or buy Midnight in Havana by Peggy Blair at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Midnight in Havana by Peggy Blair at Amazon.com.
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