Fantasy, Adventure and a love story all rolled into one!
The book is set in 1968 Mexico with real historical events as a background, including the October 2 massacre of students at Tiatelolco.
Mr Ayers has obviously done his homework into Meso-American civilization, his personal experiences in Mexico lend credibility to the observations of the main character Jesse J. Rideout. As I wandered deeper into Mr. Rideout's world and his encounters with sorcerers and curanderas (traditional Native American healers or shamen in Latin America), I was reminded of the popular series written by Carlos Castaneda about Don Juan Matus. I then encountered one of many short sweet surprises found sprinkled throughout the book; Mr. Castaneda himself!
Mr Ayer's words grabbed me from the start, he is a "wordsmith" who is crafty and subtle in his use of simile and metaphor. A couple of examples of many favorite lines that I read and re-read, savoring the images they evoked were; "...one of those perfect moments when all things hang suspended in crystalline perfection, like the lingering vibration of a struck bell after is sound has faded..." and "Revenge is a dish best served cold."
Mr Ayer's familiarity with the military jargon of the "special" operative was authentic. Mr Ayers was a member of the Army Special Forces (SF) and so was I. One such example of these phrases include; "Suddenly the back of my neck went to ice, I was walking point and someone had me in his sights." Another was as Ms Katarina Castillo (Kate) has started to realize that there is far more to Jesse Rideout than meets the eye. She questions Jesse about why he is carrying his gun when all they are going to do is go out: "You're carrying it today?" (She asks) "I carry it all the time." (Jesse answers) "You planning to shoot someone today?"(She returns) (Jesse then asks her:) "Do you have insurance on your Jag?" "Of course"(Kate answers) (Jesse replies) "Planning to have an accident today?"
Finally what I admired most about this book was that it is NOT about some vigilante, seeking retribution and cold-blooded in his killing, but rather narrates the conflict constantly Mr Rideout feels within himself. He narrates at one point "Evil done in the service of good is still evil." Another example is when he talks with Dillon, a former SF team sergeant of his and Dillon says "Your problem is you have too much heart. You bleed more than your target."
Mr Rideout is also not a "James Bond" operative but rather one who knows he is well trained yet, realises his fallability and expresses fear or has doubts about his ability to carry through with some, often dangerous or difficult, objective. He also has few illusions about the integrity of the politicians and others who keep their hands clean while others do extremely dirty work in the name of "patriotism."
The Jaguar's Heart is an exciting ride through fact, fiction, fantasy and more than enough reality which made this a real page-turner for me. Get a copy and see for yourself.
(reviewed 10 days after purchase)