The Poisoned Pawn

Paperback | February 5, 2013

byPeggy Blair

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When Cuban Inspector Ricardo Ramirez is dispatched to Canada   and told to bring home a priest found in possession of child pornography depicting Cuban children, he knows his job will be hard enough. But it gets worse once he’s in Ottawa, and women in Havana start dropping dead from a mysterious toxin. Worried about his family, powerless to help pathologist Hector Apiro, and faced with the threat of a Canadian travel advisory that could shut down Cuban tourism, Ramirez tries focus on his mission. As he does, he untangles a web of deceit and depravity that extends all the way from the corridors of power in Ottawa to those of the Vatican , and uncovers a cold-blooded killer.

The Poisoned Pawn is the gripping, fast-paced sequel to the award-winning, critically acclaimed mystery The Beggar’s Opera. Evoking the crumbling beauty of Old Havana and featuring Inspector Ramirez, a man haunted by the victims of his unsolved cases, it’s perfect for fans of Donna Leon and Martin Cruz Smith who love exotic settings and unforgettable characters.

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From the Publisher

When Cuban Inspector Ricardo Ramirez is dispatched to Canada   and told to bring home a priest found in possession of child pornography depicting Cuban children, he knows his job will be hard enough. But it gets worse once he’s in Ottawa, and women in Havana start dropping dead from a mysterious toxin. Worried about his family, powe...

Peggy Blair was a lawyer for more than thirty years. Her critically  acclaimed mystery The Beggar’s Opera won the 2012 Scotiabank  Giller Prize Readers’ Choice contest and was shortlisted for the  Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award. The Poisoned Pawn  is the second in the Inspector Ramirez series. Peggy lives in Otta...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9 × 6.2 × 0.85 inPublished:February 5, 2013Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143179993

ISBN - 13:9780143179993

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read This was just as good as the first book by Peggy I've ordered her other 2 books. Very on the edge of your seat suspenseful.
Date published: 2016-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Read! Amazing book! As a follow up to The Beggar’s Opera, Inspector Ramirez heads to Canada to pick up a priest suspected of numerous cases of abuse against children. And there are the murders of two women in Cuba to be solved. Loved the character development and the attention to detail. Loved it!
Date published: 2013-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read for mystery fans A real five-star read. I'm rarely 100% satisfied with mysteries... if the puzzle's good, the characters are wooden, or the setting feels contrived to fit the plot. Not this time. From Cubans to Canadians, the characters are real, fleshed-out, and memorable. Old Havana and Ottawa feel authentic -- not glossed up for escapist readers. And the plot (plots?) had me right to the last pages. Highly recommended! And you don't need to read The Beggar's Opera first. I hadn't.
Date published: 2013-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Welcome back, Inspector Ramirez! There are many reasons I give “The Poisoned Pawn” a 5 star rating. According to Chapters this rating means, “I loved it” — and I did. Here are a few of my favourite things about the book The writing is clear, informative and yet descriptive. The plot is complex with many twists and unexpected turns. Blair touches on very dark subjects, which is something I personally love about the mystery/police procedural genre. Authors can highlight social justice issues without depressing the reader, because in most novels, the bad guys get their just desserts. As a Canadian, I was particularly interested in Inspector Ramirez’s perspectives on Canada. I felt like a tourist in my own country. That speaks to the quality of the writing, in that the Inspector is so real, interesting, flawed but heroic, and sympathetic that I immediately saw everything through his eyes. The fact that the ghosts of the wronged haunt Ramirez adds an element of fantasy and charm, as well as a fascinating puzzle. What are they trying to tell him about their murders? Here’s another of my favourite parts: the characters. There are lots of them and every one is captivating. Ramirez’s friend, pathologist Hector Apiro, is so unique that I, like Peggy Blair herself admits in her back pages, believe they must live in some parallel universe. My recommendation: Read both of Peggy Blair’s books, The Beggar’s Opera, then The Poisoned Pawn. Fall in love with the characters, which will make you want to follow them everywhere.
Date published: 2013-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Even better that the first! Peggy Blair introduced readers to Inspector Ricardo Ramirez of the Havana Major Crimes Unit last year with her first novel The Beggar's Opera. I loved it and so did a lot of other folks. It was the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize Reader's Choice Winner, the CBC Bookie Award Winner for Best Canadian Crime Novel and was shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award! Needless to say, I was very eager to pick up the second book - The Poisoned Pawn. Did it live up to the first? Absolutely - and more! I was delighted to find that the book literally picked up where the first book left off. I had thought there was more to the story and other avenues to explore and I was right. In The Poisoned Pawn, Hillary, the wife of Michael Ellis - the Canadian cop suspected of horrific crimes in Cuba - is flying home to Ottawa. She becomes extremely ill on the plane and dies. But what killed her? Ramirez is also headed to Canada - sent by his superiors to pick up a Catholic priest being returned to Cuba to face charges for sex crimes against Cuban children. But, back in Cuba, two other women die in circumstances exactly like Hillary. Ramirez is under pressure from many factions.... There are so many things to like about Blair's novels. For me, the biggest draw is the characters. Ramirez is one of the last few honest cops left on Havana's force (although he does borrow rum from the evidence locker). He's dogged and determined and deftly weaves his way through the political mire of the department and country to achieve results. Ramirez also sees the dead. A victim's ghost will attach itself to Ricardo, until he manages to solve the death. But I enjoy his friend and colleague, pathologist Dr. Hector Apiro just as much. Apiro's mind is brilliant and his personal storyline is both unique and moving. The setting in Cuba continues to fascinate me. The descriptions of what is not there (soap, meat and more) the limitations placed on the citizens, the city and land, as well as the customs and culture - Voodoo, Santeria and more. In juxtaposition, Ramirez's introduction to Canada at the Ottawa airport is an eye opener. "They walked past a store with maple-sugar candy; a display of bright art painted on canvas. Another store sold purses brief-cases, scarves and ties. Ramirez already felt overwhelmed. He wondered how Canadians could pick out what to wear each day with so many choices. In Cuba, most stores had only a rack or two of wares; the other shelves were empty. Even in Havana, the bodegas generally had only one brand of canned goods. If they had anything to sell at all." "Ramirez watched servers do the unthinkable; scrape leftovers into the garbage. It was all he could do to restrain himself from running over to grab their hands, to plead with them to stop the waste." The title? The Poisoned Pawn is a chess move. "A player places a pawn where it can be easily captured. If the other player takes the bait, his own men are exposed to attack. Bu the ploy is risky, because it can reveal both sides' weaknesses......But few chess games are ever perfect." Blair's plotting resembles an intricate chess game as well. She has come up with an inventive, multi-layered plot that kept me guessing as to where the next move would be. Blair also weaves social commentary into her novel, with sharp, pointed and timely commentary, touching on the Catholic Church, Canadian First Nations, and residential schools in both Cuba and Canada. She also includes historical references that had me headed to the Web to investigate further. The Poisoned Pawn was such a satisfying read on so many levels - I will be eagerly awaiting the next in this series.
Date published: 2013-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Warning You won't want to put this book down it is so good, so be warned that you might be up all night.
Date published: 2013-02-28

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Editorial Reviews

"Inspector Ramirez returns in The Poisoned Pawn still guided and haunted by visions of crime victims past ... the story treads dark and nasty territory, but Blair sidesteps the impulse to wallow in graphic violence by sticking to her characters' actions and motivations ... The Poisoned Pawn shows there is a way to hold onto decency and humanity in the face of the worse criminality." - National Post"An affecting series. Even if impoverished and politically oppressed Havana presents unique burdens, Ramirez is not without a sense of humour as he goes about his clever sleuthing." - Toronto Star"If you, like me, somehow managed to miss Peggy Blair's debut novel, The Beggar's Opera, then you should read this second book and run out to buy the first. Hopefully there's a third on the way." - The Globe and Mail"Two crime novels. Two resounding successes. Peggy Blair proves her debut novel, The Beggar's Opera was much, much more than beginner's luck." - Vancouver Sun"Blair shows a real flair for character. But it's the Cuban story that really makes it sing." - Ottawa Citizen