Return of the Jaguar

Fiction - Mystery - Historical
324 Pages
Reviewed on 05/12/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Keith Julius for Readers' Favorite

Ted Somerville, an attorney from Canada, has fallen on hard times. His wife has left him and he is at a low point in his life. Though few details are given regarding his past, we learn he has traveled to Mexico to get away from things for a while and reassess his situation. On a local bus, he meets an American woman, known only as Bailey, and becomes involved in a situation that changes him forever. Author Norm Cuddy has based Return of the Jaguar on actual events that occurred in Mexico in 1997 when the remote village of Acteal was attacked – supposedly by government-sanctioned troops - resulting in the execution of 45 people worshiping in a church. Many women and children were among those killed that day. We eventually learn that Bailey had been present during the event and has returned to seek revenge against Colonel Emiliano Hernandez, the leader of the massacring troops. Ted soon finds himself involved not only with government troops but also with Zapatistas, revolutionaries led by the elusive Marcos, as he is thrust into the middle of a violent civil war.

Return of the Jaguar is fast-paced and captivating, made particularly more interesting since author Norm Cuddy has based it on actual events. The woman, Bailey, is a mysterious entity who drifts in and out of the story, leaving snippets of clues regarding her past which ultimately come together by the end of the book. The story is beautifully written, some parts lyrical in nature, as we learn of the plight of the down-trodden Mexicans struggling to subsist on the meager lands they call home while wealthy landowners reap the benefits of an unjust social system. Some elements of the story seem like we've read before. The evil and ruthless government soldiers and the revolutionary leader with a heart of gold. But for the most part, the book is entertaining and full of surprises – some shocking - as Ted Somerville finds his way in life in a manner he had never expected.

Bruno Huber

A fast paced, swashbuckling read with a lot of current social and political commentary on a fragmented Mexico. It's also a love story between two psychologically damaged protagonist who find themselves pulled into the Zapatista's fight for recognition and survival in a the southern jungles of Chiapas on the Guatemalan border. Well written with insight and passion.