I just finished listening to “The NIght of the Jaguar” by Michael Gruber. Books on CD is my favorite way to pass the long hours driving to and from my family home 7 hours away.
The top few characters develop nicely, learning from and integrating their experiences to grow from them.
The gist surrounds mysterious murders by a giant jaguar, which we know from the beginning is a little Columbian Indian who transforms into this god like beast, his own god, in fact. All this seems too implauseable, and we hear that from several characters, including the main character, Jimmy Paz, who retired as a cop after solving some bizarre voodoo killings years before. But over time, he begins to piece events together, all of which lead him to re-constitute some of his heritage, expressed in the character of his shamanistic Cuban mother.
In my favorite parts, the various characters discuss the scientific plausibility of spirits, their powers, their effects on the real world. It sound like Gruber did his homework, since the conversations seem well researched and make sense.
Gruber broaches tricky territory trying to convince us that spirits can take shapes not scientifically possible. But with all those philosophy of science and psychology discussions in the book, he set the leap up fairly well.
During Jimmy Paz’s defining moment, he realizes that it is simply not possible to be able to understand all workings of the universe, and that believing so hampers one’s ability so sense and respect the unknowable, the mysterious aspects of the workings of mind and matter which we may never fully grasp, no matter how much research is done. His wife, a psychiatric MD, and friend, a brilliant scientist, are not convinced. Much like the world we live in, there are the believers and the skeptics. But Jimmy brings us along with him in his transformation into a believer, at least in Jaguar spirits who take real form to kill.
All in all, a great read, or listen, in my case. This book on CD was read by Jonathan Davis, who does a fantastic job of rendering all the different characters voices and accents, from Brit to American to Florida Cuban.