Tropic of Night
Jane Doe was a promising anthropologist, an expert on shamanism. Now she’s nothing, a shadow: after faking her own suicide, she’s living under an assumed identity in Miami with a little girl to protect. Everyone thinks she’s dead. Or so she hopes.
Then the killings start, a series of ritualistic murders that terrifies all of Miami. The investigator is Jimmy Paz, a Cuban-American police detective. There are witnesses, but they can recall almost nothing of the events, as though their memories have been erased—as if a spell has been cast on each of them. Equally bizarre is the string of clues Paz uncovers: a divination charm, exotic drugs found in the bodies of the victims, a century-old report telling of a secret place in the heart of Africa.
These clues point Paz inexorably toward the fugitive, Jane Doe, and force Jane to realize that the darkness she has fled is seeking her out, hunting her down. By the time her path intersects with Jimmy Paz’s, the two will be thrust into a cataclysmic battle between good and an evil unimaginable to the Western mind.
This debut thriller should come with a warning—do not pick up if you have anything else planned for as long as it takes to read it! Tropic of Night is a dramatic, stylish, smart, and very strongly plotted novel, mixing anthropology, ethnography, sorcery, mayhem, and murder in an intriguing and wholly captivating story that ranges from Mali to Siberia, Nigeria to Miami, and never lets up. Jane Doe is a smart but listless graduate student when she encounters Marcel Vierchau, a French scholar whose lover she quickly becomes, following him to the strange world of the Chenka, a mysterious sect of Siberian shamans in whose society she quickly loses her scholarly objectivity—and nearly her life. Returning without Vierchau to the comfortable world of her wealthy family, she meets and marries DeWitt Moore, a black poet who accompanies her to Africa on a field trip that turns him into a powerful shaman, awakens her own abilities to commune with the spirits of the Yoruba sorcerers, and again comes close to destroying her. Wary of Moore’s new strength, she stages her own death and becomes a faceless member of Miami’s underclass, but just when she believes she’s safe from his reach, a series of bloody ritual murders of pregnant Miami women convince her that she is once again his target—and that anyone who comes between them, including her adopted daughter, will also meet a terrifying end. Michael Gruber delivers a fabulous, wholly original read that will linger in the reader’s mind long after the last page is turned! —Jane Adams