Night of the Jaguar

( 13 )


Deep in the jungles of Colombia, an American priest is shot dead in his makeshift church.

A few weeks later an Indian shaman arrives in South Florida, armed only with a bag of totems and the fearsome power of his vengeful god.

As a Miami Homicide Detective, Jimmy Paz saw terrible things that defied rationality. Now retired, he's put the darkness behind him. But suddenly he, his wife, and their young daughter are being haunted by horrific ...

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Deep in the jungles of Colombia, an American priest is shot dead in his makeshift church.

A few weeks later an Indian shaman arrives in South Florida, armed only with a bag of totems and the fearsome power of his vengeful god.

As a Miami Homicide Detective, Jimmy Paz saw terrible things that defied rationality. Now retired, he's put the darkness behind him. But suddenly he, his wife, and their young daughter are being haunted by horrific dreams&#8212terrifying visions of a giant jungle cat. And when affluent Miami businessmen begin dying gruesomely in their fortress-like homes&#8212with the footprints of a massive animal found at the crime scenes&#8212the baffled police must turn to Paz, who has experience with the impossible. Paz cannot refuse, for he's tied to this case by a shocking secret from his past. And what he loves most may be the next thing devoured in this nightmare of carnage and sacrifice.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gruber's highly entertaining supernatural thriller completes the trilogy that began with Tropic of Night and Valley of Bones. All feature Miami cop Jimmy Paz, though the real star of this outing is the supposedly dull-witted Jenny Simpson, a gofer for the Forest Planet Alliance. When someone starts murdering Cuban-American businessmen in grisly fashion, suspicion falls on Moie, an Indian from a remote area of Colombia the victims had plans to develop. But how could the tiny Indian leave footprint evidence indicating he weighs over 450 pounds? Summoned out of retirement, Jimmy takes on the case, though he and his seven-year-old daughter, Amelia, are soon troubled by dreams of a jaguar with evil designs on Amelia. Every time Moie glides onto the page, the book shines, but it's Jenny, helping to shelter Moie, who steals the show (e.g., she's baffled that her boss would have a wife, Portia, named after a car). Hotly spiced with hit men and guns, demon gods and piranhas, this one offers more social satire than its predecessors, mostly at the expense of do-gooder environmentalists. 3-city author tour. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
After the brilliant Valley of Bones comes this muddled, meandering mess of pseudomysticism and philosophy that closes the trilogy Gruber started with Tropic of Night. An Indian shaman from the jungles of Colombia makes his way to Miami to challenge Cuban land developers who want to tear down his homeland. They begin dying mysteriously at the hands of a 450-pound animal or beast. Retired detective Jimmy Paz returns to the force to get to the bottom of the killings, especially since he and his young daughter are haunted by visions of a jaguar. There are numerous subplots that offer little more than filler to an already unoriginal premise. Gruber is excellent with words and vocabulary; the visceral descriptions of the crime scenes are better than those of many of his mystery-writing contemporaries. Unfortunately, they are not enough to keep one's interest. Reader Jonathan Davis is excellent, animating many flat characters and making them more interesting than they deserve to be. Recommended only for public libraries that already carry the previous two titles. Jesse Light, Memorial Hall Lib., Andover, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A tiny but powerful South American shaman kicks quite a bit of Miami ass in an effort to protect the rainforest back home. Readers who have been seduced by Gruber and his signature blend of tropical heat, sex, philosophy, magic and wit (Tropic of Night, 2003; Valley of Bones, 2004) will find all the ingredients that make his books so addictive, but this time, the intensity has been cut measurably, so the fix is not quite as powerful. Iago "Jimmy" Paz is back-the brilliant Afro Cuban autodidact is no longer a policeman, though. He's a cook in his mother's popular restaurant, happily married to zaftig psychologist Lola Wise, now a med student, and the father of a gorgeous seven-year-old daughter. Jimmy's domestic bliss is disturbed by gruesome crimes that will prove in time to have a family connection. Moie, a spunky, indigenous, Colombian medicine man, tipped off to international skulduggery aiming to wipe out the local mahogany forest, has paddled his canoe a thousand miles, hopped a freighter and landed in Miami, where he routinely transforms into a 300-plus-pound jaguar in order to devour the evil businessmen. Also on the scene are a mismatched gang of environmental activists, whose number include a beautiful redhead with a sad past and the potential to pull off some magic of her own. When the local cops have to admit that they have no idea who is eating the livers of well known businessmen, they ask Jimmy to do the civic thing and give them a little help. But Jimmy's got his own problems. Everyone in his little family has been having deeply symbolic and very frightening dreams about a jaguar hungry for little girls. Jimmy's solution involves a reluctant immersion in Santer'a, hismother's Afro-Caribbean religion. Gruber's asking for bigger gulps of disbelief than his fans may be willing to swallow here.
The Oregonian (Portland)
“Compellingly original.…Prose that is efficient yet rich and hip.”
Seattle Times
“Superior entertainment that raises sincere, provocative questions of intellect and faith.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060577698
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/27/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Michael Gruber is the author of five acclaimed novels. He lives in Seattle.


Michael Gruber, in his own words:

I was born and raised in New York City, and educated in its public schools. I went to Columbia, earning a B.A. in English literature. After college I did editorial work at various small magazines in New York, and then went back to school at City College and got the equivalent of a second B.A., in biology.

After that I went to the University of Miami and got an M.A. in marine biology. In 1968-69, I was in the Army as a medic.

In 1973, I received my Ph.D. marine sciences, for a study of octopus behavior. Then I was a chef at several Miami restaurants. Then I was a hippie traveling around in a bus and working as a roadie for various rock groups. Then I worked for the county manager of Metropolitan Dade County, as an analyst. Then I was director of planning for the county department of human resources.

I went to Washington, D.C., in 1977, and worked in the Carter White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy. Then I worked in the Environmental Protection Agency as a policy analyst and also as the speechwriter for the administrator. I started writing freelance at that time, and shortly after being promoted to the Senior Executive Service of the U.S., I left Washington and settled in Seattle. I worked for a while for the state land commissioner, but since 1988 I have been a full-time writer.

I am married, with three grown children and an extremely large dog.

Good To Know

Some interesting anecdotes from our interview with Gruber:

"My first job was writing copy for Classics Comics, which was the best job I ever had. Reducing Tolstoy to thought balloons!"

"I did my Ph.D. on the relation between moray eels and octopuses. As a result of this work, I am one of the few people who have been bitten by both a moray eel and an octopus. Being bitten by a moray is much like catching your finger in a car door. Being bitten by an octopus is like being snakebit. Your arm swells up and turns black."

"I was once a member of a traveling commune called the Hog Farm. I was the cook on one of the buses. My roadkill dumplings were famous throughout the mobile counterculture. I once made eggs Benedict for 14 hippies on the banks of the Rio Grande. Aside from that my life has been fairly dull and no fun at all."

"I have no hobbies. The only thing I do with my time is reading, writing, and research. I walk my dog. I occasionally dig in the garden, but we have a gardener and this tends to upset her. I never unwind, except I get drunk with a bunch of journalists every Friday. Every Wednesday I teach snippets of Catholic theology to people who wish to join the Church."

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    1. Hometown:
      Seattle, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 1, 1940
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Columbia University, 1961; Ph.D., University of Miami, 1973
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Night of the Jaguar

A Novel
By Michael Gruber

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Michael Gruber
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060577681

Chapter One

Jimmy Paz sits up in his bed, folding from the waist like a jackknife with his heart thumping so hard he can almost hear it over the whine of the air-conditioning. A moment of disorientation here: the dream has been so vivid. But he looks about him and accepts that he is in his bedroom in his house in South Miami, Florida; he can make out the familiar shapes in the real glow from the digital clock and the paler beams of moonlight slipping through the blinds, and he can feel the warm loom of his wife's body beside him. The clock tells him it is three-ten in the morning.

Paz has not had a dream like this in seven years, but back then he used to have them all the time. There are families that take dreams seriously, that discuss them around the breakfast table, but the Paz family is not one of them, although the mother of the family is a psychiatrist in training. Paz lies back on his pillow and considers the dream he has just had, which was the sort in which the dreamer has Godlike perspective, floating over some scene and watching the players perform. He recalls something about a murder, someone has been shot in the middle of a village somewhere, and Paz and . . . Someone, some vast presence next to him,God or some powerful figure, is watching as the men who have shot the . . . Paz can't recall, but it is someone of significance . . . as the killers escape into a forest of tall trees, and these men, to ease their passage through the forest are . . . exploding the trees, touching them and making them disappear into red dust. The area through which they have passed is reduced to a rusty desert, and the dream carries a feeling of deep sadness and outrage about all this.

The killers are fleeing from a single man dressed in rough animal skins, like John the Baptist. He shoots at them with a bow and arrow, and they fall one by one, but it also seems as if their numbers do not decrease. Paz asks the Someone what this all means and in the dream gets an answer, but now he can't recall what it was. There's a sense of a vast intelligence there, both ferocious and calm . . .

Paz shakes his head violently, as if to make the scraps of dream-life go away, and at this motion his wife murmurs and stirs. He makes himself relax. This is not supposed to happen to him anymore, meaningful dreams. He has devoted the past seven years to expunging the memory of his previous life, when he was a police detective, during which career certain things happened to him that could not have happened in a rational world, and he has nearly convinced himself that they did not in fact occur, that in fact there are no saints or demons playing incomprehensible games in the unseen world, but that if such games did exist, as many believe, they would not involve Jimmy Paz as a player. Or pawn.

Now the dream is fading; he encourages this, he wills forgetfulness. He has already forgotten that the skin-clad man with the bow had his own brown face. He has forgotten the part about his daughter, Amelia. He has forgotten the cat.

They shot the priest on a Sunday in the plaza of San Pedro Casivare just after mass, which he had just said because the regular priest was ill and because he volunteered to do it. He had not said mass for a congregation of believers in a long time, years. The priest lay there for some minutes; none of the townspeople wanted to touch him, because of the trouble he'd made and because the gunmen were still there leaning against their car, watching the people with interest and smoking cigars. The people stood in silent groups; above, on the rooftops, hopeful black vultures flapped and shoved. The day was hot and there was no breeze, so a few minutes before noon, the gunmen mounted their vehicle and drove away for some shade and a drink. As soon as they left, a group of Indians, six or seven of them, appeared as if from nowhere and carried him off in a blue blanket, down the street to the riverside, the path they took traced by drops of blood in the pale dust. At the edge of the wide brown water they laid him tenderly in a long dugout canoe, and paddled away, upriver toward the Puxto.

He didn't learn of the shooting until two days later, although he dreamed of white birds and so knew that someone's death was at hand. And he had seen the death of someone walking through the night, toward the river, and he knew from the look of it that it was not the death of a Speaker of Language, a Runiya, but of a wai'ichura. So he knew who the person was, for there was only one of these in the village. The man was alone in his little compound, lying in his hammock, inhabiting the light trance that was his usual state of being, when he heard the rattles sound. Slowly, and not without reluctance, he gathered the scattered fingers of his being back into his body, back into the daily, leaving the timeless life of the plants and animals, becoming again a human person, Moie.

Standing now, he washed his face at a clay basin and carefully spilled the water on the ground outside the house, stirring the mud with his toe, so that no enemy could seize on the dregs of his reflected face to do him harm. He took a drink of cool chicha beer from the clay pot, using a gourd. The rattlings continued.


Excerpted from Night of the Jaguar by Michael Gruber Copyright © 2006 by Michael Gruber. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2006

    A satisfying book from a fine writer

    Michael Gruber's excellent new novel, Night of the Jaguar, provides a satisfying read for devotees of his work. The author has settled into a what he does best--creating engaging, articulate characters who have something interesting to say about the mundane (hauling children to and from school, say, or relations with mothers-in-law) and the existential (the possibility of a man turning into a jaguar). Gruber does the impossible: he makes a decent argument for shapeshifting. Moie, an indigenous person from the South American jungle, makes his way to Miami to stop the destruction of his patch of the rain forest by a conscienceless American company. He connects with a small group of Americans fighting to protect the rainforest and--eventually--with Jimmy Paz, former Miami detective and current chef at his mama's Cuban restaurant. How does Moie's story interact with Jimmy's, his daughter Amelia's, Jimmy's father's, a British scientist's, and a former foster child's? Who is murdering the wealthy Cuban businessmen who conspired to cut down Moie's rainforest home? You'll stay up until four in the morning to find out.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer


    Before the dead priest, murdered in a gangland slaying, can go to the spirit realm, he speaks to the shaman Moie, a member of the Runiya tribe in the Amazonian Rain Forest. He tells Moie that a group of Cuban-Americans in Miami are planning to cut down the trees in the government protected Puxto Preserve, which will yield to them millions in mahogany wood.---- - Moie travels to Miami with Jaguar, one of the gods who will help him with his quest to prevent the destruction. Two men died with Jaguar¿s claw marks scratched on their front doors. Another man survived his experience with Jaguar. The police are baffled and ask former cop Jimmy Paz to help because he has experience with ¿weird¿ cases. He wants to decline because he fears acceptance could place his daughter in danger from the jaguar as they have dreamed of him. However, Jimmy realizes he must join the fray otherwise his daughter will be in danger from Jaguar though he knows he must confront deadly humans, a shaman and a lethal god.----- NIGHT OF THE JAGUAR is a supernatural thriller that will have readers on the edge of their seats wondering what happens next. The audience will also ponder whether Jaguar is a god, an alter ego of Moie, a shapeshifter, or something else. There is plenty of action but not at the cost of character development as the key players, Moie, Jaguar and Jimmy are fully developed and very complex. The support cast enhances either the action or the lead triangle. Readers will want additional Paz thrillers from Michael Gruber.---- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Elders dem

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2013

    Fun Sexy Book

    Lighter than the other Jimmy Paz books but still great. I loved this book & so did everyone I gave a copy too.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010


    I'm loving it!

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