Thursday, August 30, 2012

ARC Review: Tears of the Jaguar by A. J. Hartley

Tears of the Jaguar
Author: A. J. Hartley
Publication: Thomas & Mercer (September 4, 2012)

Description: Six months ago, museum curator Deborah Miller had never heard of Ek Balam, an obscure Mayan archaeological site known for its carved figures. Now here she is, having traded Atlanta’s urban jungle for a remote village in Mexico’s Yucatan, tasked with overseeing Ek Balam’s excavation. But when a sudden rainstorm causes a partial collapse at the site, an unexpected treasure is unearthed: a collection of rough-cut rubies hidden from the world for hundreds of years—and very out-of-place in the Yucatan. It is a find of immeasurable value, one that Deborah vows to protect—and yet is powerless to prevent from being stolen soon after its discovery. Determined to retrieve the stones, she sets out to trace their complex history across four centuries and two continents, from Mexico to northern England where the jewels once played a harrowing role in the Lancashire witch trials of 1612. But Deborah is not the only one searching for the stones; close on her heels are archaeologists, occultists, and one very determined arms dealer, all of whom will stop at nothing, not even murder, to claim the prize for themselves.

My Thoughts: TEARS OF THE JAGUAR was a thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat and rapidly turning the pages to find out what was happening. And this was NOT a story where I saw the solution before the main character.

I didn't like Deborah Miller very much when the book began. This museum curator who was sent to the Yucatan to oversee explorations at Ek Balam by her benefactor at Cornerstone who was funding her museum felt out of her depth and resentful of the archaeologist sent to survey the site. Her resentment and jealousy made her sharp tongued and not very likable. She has a bad relationship with her sister and mother because she felt her mother favored her sister and she resented her sister's athletic ability and the times she had to tag along to practices instead of being left alone to study. She was her father's daughter but now he is dead and her mother has remarried and is getting ready to sell the family home. This is another cause for her tension and resentment. 

The archaeologist - Bowerdale - isn't likable either. He is a pompous, blow hard who likes hitting on his female graduate assistants and doesn't pass up any opportunity to belittle Deborah. The graduate assistants are also shifty characters with Alice being sort of goth and liking to use her sexuality to get things from men. She prefers the abusive kind. James, the other graduate student, is sort of a puppy. He wants Alice's attention and is a sneaky sort of person. 

When a very heavy thunderstorm uncovers a previously hidden tomb, things change. All of a sudden Deborah needs to coordinate more archaeologists - all of whom are quirky, obsessed and more than a little weird. When the grave goods are stolen, it ignites a chase across Mexico and even to Lancashire England and brings in the CIA, MI5, a Serbian "entrepreneur" who wants to find the treasure to sell to the highest bidder, and someone who doesn't hesitate to leave a trail of bodies behind them.

Once Deborah was on the hunt and following clues I began to like her better. I came to appreciate her intelligence and her bulldog-like persistence as she followed the trail of clues. I liked her enough to hunt down and buy two earlier books by the author that included Deborah Miller.

This was a very compelling thriller that was a great story. I recommend it to thriller lovers.  

Favorite Quote:
Deborah spent the whole of the next day in the lab with Aguilar. Krista has found reasons to go up to the site at Ek Balam, but Deborah thought she was being cagey, and Aguilar got tense every time Krista showed up. Something was going on, but whether it was important, or just some relationship thing, Deborah couldn't say. Immediately, she heard her mother's voice in her head: "How like you to assume that relationships aren't important."

Not now, Ma, she thought.
I got this ARC through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. You can buy a copy here.

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