This intricate thriller ignites in the very first chapter as anthropologist heroine Jane Doe employs the theories of Claude Levi-Strauss, quotes W. H. Auden, kills a drunken woman using advanced aikido techniques and rescues an abused child whom she raises as her own.
Not since The Secret History has a novel so flawlessly married the ferocious intensity of an unforgettable thriller with the depth, daring, and nuance of our most celebrated literary fiction. Tropic of Night is a virtuoso performance -- an unforgettably accomplished novel, a masterpiece of electricity and ambition.
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.
Looking at the sleeping child, I watch myself looking at the sleeping child, placing the dyad in a cultural context, classifying the feelings I am feeling even as I feel them. This is partly the result of my training as an anthropologist and ethnographer and partly a product of wonder that I can still experience feelings other than terror. It has been a while. I assess these feelings as appropriate for female, white, American, Anglo-Saxon ethnicity, Roman Catholic (lapsed), early-twenty-first c., socioeconomic status one, working below SES.
Socioeconomic status. Having these feelings. Motherhood. Lay your sleeping head, my love, human on my faithless arm, as Auden says. Maladie de l'anthropologie, Marcel used to call it, a personalized version of Mannheim's paradox: the ethnographer observes the informant, at the same time observes herself observing the informant, because she, the ethnographer, is part of a culture too. Then at the same time observing herself ...
If you liked Tropic of Night, try these:
'Sean Rowe's Fever is as fresh and blistering and relentless a thriller as any tropical noir I've read. Rowe knows this territory well--especially the creatures that slither about it when the sun goes down. Jump on board, hang on tight.'
A ruthless group of corrupt cops is playing a lethal game of cat and mouse in the latest installment in Garcia-Roza's Brazilian crime series.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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