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Night of the Jaguar
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Night of the Jaguar

4.3 13
by Michael Gruber

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“Like settling down with a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel—if it was rewritten by James M. Cain.”


“Like settling down with a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel—if it was rewritten by James M. Cain.”

Denver Post


Michael Gruber’s Night of the Jaguar—like his earlier novels featuring Miami detective Jimmy Paz (Tropic of Night, Valley of Bones)—transforms the conventional thriller into something extraordinary, taking the crime novel to a place it has never gone before. Combining a grisly murder investigation with chilling supernatural elements and provocative thought, Night of the Jaguar is a bravura display of the originality and artistry that has won Gruber the title, “the Stephen King of crime fiction” while inspiring the Washington Post Book World to name the Jimmy Paz trilogy, “among the essential novels of recent years.”

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.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.93(d)

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.
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Meet the Author

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

Brief Biography

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

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