Night of the Jaguar
Minotaur Books, September 2014
A murder mystery wrapped up in the politics of Sandinista Nicaragua during the 1980’s, including the US-sponsored Contra rebels opposing the government, makes for a most unusual setting in this debut novel. Ajax Montoya, a hero who gained a reputation as a leader in the revolution against the dictator Somoza, failed to attain the lofty heights of power some of the other leading revolutionary leaders did after gaining their objective and is ‘just’ a police captain, fighting his nightmares through alcoholism.
Then Ajax, six days sober, becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of a landowner just days prior to the visit of a US Senator on a fact-finding mission. While the murder was made to look like a robbery gone bad, Ajax and his partner determine it was an assassination. So they begin to probe despite obstacles thrown in their way by their superiors and the ghost that haunts Ajax.
Night of the Jaguar is an unusual novel, especially because of its Central American background, which is told so well by the author, who was a free-lance journalist in that country during the Sandinista revolution. Sometimes the thread of the story becomes a bit too complicated and disjointed, but on the whole the plot is maintained at a steady pace. It would appear from the novel’s conclusion that we may be seeing more of Ajax Montoya in a sequel, something to which we can look forward.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, May 2015.