Start reading The Beggar's Opera on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player


The Beggar's Opera [Kindle Edition]

Peggy Blair
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $8.01 (50%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $7.99  
Paperback $12.86  
Mass Market Paperback --  
Hero Quick Promo
Year-End Kindle Daily Deals
Load your library with great books for $2.99 or less each, today only. Learn more

Book Description

IN BEAUTIFUL, CRUMBLING OLD Havana, detective Mike Ellis hopes the sun and sand will 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 couple for a few pesos on the world famous Malecón.

For Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, head of the Havana Major Crimes Unit, arresting Ellis isn’t the problem—the law is. He has only seventy-two hours to secure an indictment and prevent a vicious killer from leaving the island. And Ramirez has his own troubles. He’s dying of the same dementia that killed his grandmother, an incurable disease that makes him see the ghosts of victims of his unsolved cases. As he races against time, the dead haunt his every step. . . .

First in a new series featuring Inspector Ramirez, The Beggar’s Opera exposes the bureaucracy, corruption, and beauty of Hemingway’s Havana.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Not only does Canadian Blair’s exciting new series take place in contemporary Havana—a slam dunk of a setting for crime fiction—but it also boasts an unusual and unusually intriguing premise: Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, head of Havana’s Major Crimes Unit, sees dead bodies, the ghosts of the victims of his unsolved cases. But this isn’t another paranormal wrinkle in a realistic crime series (like Charles Todd’s Inspector Rutledge novels); no, Ramirez may have inherited something called Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), in which the victim suffers from vivid hallucinations. But he hardly has time to worry about his dead companions at the moment, as a Canadian policeman, Mike Ellis, is being held on suspicion of the rape and murder of a young Cuban boy, and the police have 72 hours to formally charge or release him. Meanwhile, a Canadian lawyer, Celia Jones, arrives to help Ellis negotiate the formidable Cuban bureaucracy. Each of the three major characters could hold up a crime novel on his or her own, and Blair interweaves their stories beautifully; she also invests Havana geography (with its decaying buildings and rusting American cars) with new vigor by focusing not only on photo-worthy street scenes but also on the complex lives of the people who live inside the broken buildings. A fine novel and the launch of what looks to be a superb series. --Bill Ott


“[An] impressive debut novel ... [the] book itself unfolds with an artless ease: the investigation and its developments are both compelling and convincing, a genuinely mysterious mystery that manages to both surprise and maintain its internal integrity...The Beggar’s Opera is a well-crafted, genuinely satisfying mystery.”
The National Post            
“Gripping…Passion, corruption, danger: it’s a Cuba-set mystery that satisfyingly delivers all the compelling characteristics of its setting.”
-Andrew Pyper, NTY bestselling author of The Guardians         
An impressive police procedural… Blair keeps the tension high, even as she paints a comprehensive, sensitively detailed picture…”
-Sarah Weinman, in the Quill and Quire
“An impressive debut…compelling and convincing… The Beggar’s Opera is a well-crafted, genuinely satisfying mystery that bodes well for future novels featuring Ricardo Ramirez.”
-The National Post
“A fast-paced, well-plotted mystery.”
-Vancouver Sun
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 Rotenburg, author of Old City Hall and The Guilty Plea
“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, author of the bestseller The Witch of Babylon
“I have a penchant for smart, dark, literary crime fiction, and The Beggar’s Opera is all of that: an excellent book.”
-Alan Guthrie, author of Two-Way Split

Product Details

  • File Size: 416 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pintail; Reprint edition (March 19, 2013)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A6WV7AO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,613 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Race Against Time in Old Havana February 13, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Inspector Ricardo Ramirez can't shake the ghosts which tormented his dead grandmother. They follow him everywhere, sending mute messages from beyond the grave. How can he tell his wife and children that he suffers from the same rising dementia?
"That policeman should be more careful where he stands," Ramirez said to the dead woman sitting at the medical examiner Apiro's desk....She wore a frilly southern-belle dress and a wide white bandana....The several strands of beads around her neck revealed who she was -or rather had been--a follower of Santeria."
As a nation waits for a new era at the end of the punishing embargo, citizens walk a narrow line on ten pesos a month. The tourist hotels and destinations are off limits to Cubans unless they work there. Soap is impossible to buy, and coffee comes with sugar only. To manage to find a chicken for the Christmas holidays is a triumph.
Suddenly Ramirez's holiday goes on hold. Major Crimes has just picked up a vacationing Canadian lawman for the rape and murder of a young Cuban boy. Mike Ellis gave the kid spare change earlier. But he has no memory of the evening. His quarreling wife left him to return to Canada, and he was alone in a bar, drowning his sorrows in too much rum, wandering from the safe tourist paths into the dangerous back alleys of a raw but tempting world. Forensics from his hotel room look bleak for his case. Unless he can find an advocate, he'll soon be in jail at the mercy of hardened criminals who would welcome the chance to teach a lesson to someone on the other side of the law.
Canadians find Cuba a popular winter destination, but the pleasures of mojitos and white sands mask danger for thrill-seekers.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Real, captivating and ultimately moving, The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair is a significant addition to the murder mystery genre. It's a poignant and brutally honest story that paints a truly harrowing picture of poverty, abuse, corruption and abominable living conditions in Hemingway's Havana. It's dark, disturbing, thought-provoking, and heart-poundingly thrilling. Not by any means an easy-to-digest book, but one absolutely worth reading nevertheless.

Inspector Ricardo Ramirez is called in to investigate when the body of a little Cuban boy is discovered floating in the ocean in the Caleta de San Lazaro. Drugged, brutally raped and killed with a blow to the head, the boy had last been seen accepting money from a Canadian tourist, Mike Ellis. Witnesses saw Ellis giving the child money, and later on someone made an anonymous phone call to the police station stating that they witnessed a man with his description approaching young boys for sex in Parque Ciudad. A pair of men's briefs had been found in his room - the underwear had the boy's blood on it. Not to mention the polaroid photographs recovered from under the mattress in his hotel room - they were pictures documenting every step of the brutal rape. Mike Ellis has no memory of the previous evening - after the fight with his wife, he spent the night getting drunk at a local bar. It seems Inspector Ramirez has all the evidence he needs to convict the murderer and close the case, but is the case really as obvious as it appears? Or is there more to the story? Is Mike Ellis a cold blooded, vicious murderer, or is someone trying to frame him? With only seventy-two hours to solve the murder case, the race against time begins. Will justice be served?
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why the Beggars Opera? April 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A book that's difficult to describe and even more difficult to put down with an intricate plot and complex characters. You will be more knowledgeable about Cuba, its culture, and life under Castro when you finish. Do not read anything else for awhile, let the story stay in your head for a bit.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book April 7, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a book full of surprises. I remember feeling a little disappointed when I thought "oh that's it", but it wasn't. It continued to go further and further and things popped up that I didn't see coming. What a treat, particularly since this was a brand new author for me.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Havana March 2, 2013
I truly liked this book, but found some of the ending predictable though some of it was still a surprise. The surprises were enough to keep me reading and enjoying it. Part of the enjoyment was in the premise that the protagonist, Detective Ricardo Ramirez could see the spirits of dead people, victims whose murders he was to solve. My original interest was prompted by the setting, modern Cuba. Wow, what a setting! The grandeur of old Cuba and the desolation of Cuban life today.A great place to visit, but don't live there. Even visitors can fall afoul of Cuba's onerous laws as befalls Mike Ellis, a Canadian policeman, who finds himself charged with murder. The tension in this novel is the challenge: Ramirez must prove, within 72 hours, that there is enough evidence to indict Ellis while Ellis must prove that he is completely innocent. Cuba it seems has no presumed innocent rules. We get two perspectives to the same investigation, an exciting read in an exotic setting. Close to perfect.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars the book feels like Cuba, and the characters seem not only plausible...
A stunning first book in the mystery genre! Set in Havana, the book feels like Cuba, and the characters seem not only plausible but real in all of their strangeness and... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Catherine Tracy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good read -- intelligent and engrossing. A good view of a country most of us may never see.
Published 1 month ago by Richard B. Browner
5.0 out of 5 stars The fascinating plot takes place in modern day Cuba, ...
The fascinating plot takes place in modern day Cuba, revealing the struggles of living in a communist country. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Maria L. Martinez
4.0 out of 5 stars ok plot. great ambiance.
The "mystery" plot was above average. The descriptions of modern-day Cuba are outstanding. A lot different than I had thought.
Published 5 months ago by Linda Nauman
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept me guessing
This story kept me intrigued. I love the cross between a crime story as well as the spiritual world. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lisa RR
4.0 out of 5 stars nice story with interesting viewpoints
The book has a number of references to places and practices in Cuba that might be unknown to Americans. The author also makes clever use of spirituality in the characters.
Published 6 months ago by Richard
4.0 out of 5 stars A gem set in Havana
Finally, a mystery set in Cuba that's great. A police procedural whose main protagonist reminds me of Joseph Skvorecky's remorseful Lt. Read more
Published 6 months ago by wkerby
4.0 out of 5 stars The Beggar's Opera
This is the first Inspector Ricardo Ramirez mystery (also published under the title, "Midnight in Havana") and it begins with the death of his grandmother, when he is only... Read more
Published 9 months ago by S Riaz
4.0 out of 5 stars Reminiscent of Graham Greene
Peggy Blair's mystery set in Cuba, with its contorted plot, aura of evil, and mostly its tainted Catholicism bring to mind the late mysteries of the masterful Graham Greene. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Isabel Archer
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Look at an Unknown Country
Let me be honest, I read this a couple of months ago and a lot of the details have faded from my mind. But I did recommend the book to others and loaned it to my dad... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Sarah Rocklin
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category