The Poisoned Pawn

The Poisoned Pawn

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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 to 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, The Poisoned Pawn will delight fans of Donna Leon and Martin Cruz Smith who love exotic settings and unforgettable characters.

Publisher: Toronto, Ont. : Penguin Group, c2013
ISBN: 9780143180005
Branch Call Number: FIC BLAIR
Characteristics: 438 p


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Cdnbookworm May 13, 2014

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.

Unlike previous commentators, I did not find the story too complicated but one did have to have read the Beggar's Opera to understand several references to previous murder, so a prelude 'refresher' would be useful before reading Pawn. Writer's style sometimes dips into parochial, the detail of life on Island Park Drive or Sandy hill is unnecessary and embarassingly simplistic. If author wants a nation wide or international readership, yes, mention the streets/ villages but don't describe them in such detail that it turns off readers who live in other cites.

Jul 19, 2013

I really loved the first book in this "series", The Beggar's Opera, but I didn't get through this one; too many characters and confusing storylines for me. If you haven't read Beggar's, it may be very difficult to follow.

Mar 27, 2013

Complicated story of intrigue in Cuba and Ottawa; fascinating reading.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number



Find it at WPL

To Top