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Night of the Jaguar    by Michael Gruber order for
Night of the Jaguar
by Michael Gruber
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

An Indian shaman from the rain forest in Columbia, South America, arrives in south Florida to stop the illegal clearing of his native forest by any means in his power. And what power he has! He knows the men responsible can be found in Florida.

When several Cuban businessmen are horrifically murdered, police officials approach ex-detective Jimmy Paz to help in their investigation. Since he was involved in other weird happenings while on the police force, they feel Paz will get the right read on crimes which - illogically - seem to have been carried out by a large jaguar. This time, though, the case is too close to home for Paz's comfort. There are strange goings on and Paz fights with all he has for the safety of his family his daughter Amelia and wife Lola. He must face down a demon not of his own making.

Compelling, hard to put down, exciting while requiring a suspension of disbelief, Night of the Jaguar takes one to the realm of spirits while remaining firmly in today's world. Conversely, scientific data plays a role. Characterization is right on target. Jimmy Paz is cool. His long-suffering doctor wife is believable, and Amelia lives in that innocent stage of childhood where nothing is ever bad. The climax is horrifying but also somehow satisfying. The bad guys don't always win.

Night of the Jaguar is the third of Michael Gruber's novels. Read carefully. Not only does the author deliver a frightening mystery that transcends belief, but he also injects knowledge not ordinarily heard in everyday conversation into the dialogue - absorb some of it and you'll be the hit of your next cocktail party with fabulous trivia.

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