Finished April 18
The Poisoned Pawn by Peggy Blair
This mystery novel's plot moves back and forth between Ottawa and Cuba, but the series is around Inspector Ramirez, a Cuban policeman. Definitely page-turning, I read this book in one sitting.
A Canadian woman whose has made a pivotal decision in her life falls fatally ill on the flight returning from her Cuban vacation. Her husband, a Canadian policeman, is held up in Cuba, and doesn't make it home until after her death.
Back in Cuba, a body is found that has Inspector Ramirez curious. Some of the circumstances seem to indicate a tie to Santeria, but it takes some time to identify the victim and lead the team in the right direction. Ramirez has the ability, or the misfortune, to see ghosts. Ever since he began working homicide, the ghosts of his victims follow him, giving clues to their fate until he uncovers the truth. One of his good friends is the plastic surgeon and pathologist Hector Apiro, a dwarf with insight and intellectual abilities that often help point Ramirez in the right direction on a case.
Now, Ramirez is pulled away from this case and given unprecedented permission to travel to Canada to bring back a priest who is suspected of ties to child sexual abuse. After he leaves, leaving the young detective Espinoza in charge of the case and headway is made. But also back in Cuba two more women die in suspicious circumstances and with one of them also being Canadian, the Canadian government is considering a travel advisory. Can Ramirez and his team bring enough information together to prevent this from happening?
There are lots of things going on in this mystery, from the larger issue of Catholic Church involvement in sanctioned pedophelia to domestic strife. We see the realities of life for ordinary Cuban people just trying to live in a simple healthy way, and the temptations of the underground economy and corruption. Ramirez is an interesting man, thoughtful and observant, ethical and yet also pragmatic. A man who cares about his family, his friends, and his country. I look forward to learning more about him.