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Tropic of Night

(Jimmy Paz #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,834 ratings  ·  242 reviews
Jane Doe was a promising anthropologist, an expert on shamanism. Now she's nothing, a shadow living under an assumed identity in Miami with a little girl to protect. Everyone thinks she's dead. Or so Jane 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 wi
Published January 4th 2005 by HarperAudio (first published January 1st 2003)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  1,834 ratings  ·  242 reviews

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Will Byrnes
This is first-rate, a gripping detective read from start to finish, replete with tons of payload about the world of “magic.” There is particular emphasis on cultic practices in Africa and the Caribbean with notice of remote Siberian beliefs as well.
J.K. Grice
I recall being in absolute awe when I read this incredible thriller from Michael Gruber. I'm not sure this novel has an equal in the genre. TROPIC OF NIGHT is one of my top all time reads.
If you're reading this review of the Jimmy Paz series than you've read them all. In my opinion this series is remarkable for its intelligence, its strong plot and, it's philosphical world view and psychological depth of characters. Mixing murder with ethnography and sorcery, Gruber brings us a fascinating tale of Jimmy Paz, a cuban-american detective who is about to have his world and beliefs shaken to the core.

We all have brains, we all possess varying degrees of intelligence, and we all are ph
May 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a new addition to my shelf. I've read it once before, and on this second read I realized it was one I would want to read again and that I would want to read it again whenever I wanted (meaning I don't want to wait till its available at the library) so I bought it.

On one level it is a supernatural type thriller. The story is good, and I enjoy his characters. On another level, it is an exploration of ideas outside the realm of Western thought and belief, a look at race and privilege, pare
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murder, love, family dynamics, shamanism, anthropology, and mystery are all in this great book. Gruber has become one of my favorite authors and I plan on reading all of his books, and waiting for his next. His story has depth in many different areas. He makes one think about how we perceive reality and the Western bias to dismiss things we cannot explain from a scientific standpoint. You will think you know who is responsible for the killings as you read, but you just can't be sure. His setting ...more
Mar 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most interesting books that I have read in the past five years. Blending elements of voodoo and hard boiled crime fiction, this book has an incredible ending that will stay with you. Highly recommended.
Mar 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, this book makes me wonder why some books are the ones everyone is talking about and on the bestseller list, and why some aren't. How did this fall through the cracks? Maybe because it's a mystery? I don't know, but this book was interesting on a whole lot of levels. You've got your weird anthropology, santeria and sorcery, things going on with race and gender, and it's a mystery. The core idea is that sorcery and magic among hunter/gatherer societies is just a different kind of technology wh ...more
Mark Stevens
May 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, you need to know there is a glossary in the back. Wish I had known that when I started. Alujonnu is an evil spirit; ama is head; dulfna is aura of witchcraft, ilegbo is to enter trance and a zandoul is a container for magical get the idea. There are few dozen terms. Doesn't hurt to bone up.

Once you're into this thick, rich will be moving. There's energy on every page. Put a toe in the water of this book and suddenly you are water-skiing (barefoot, of course) at 1
David Carr
Aug 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This surprising and compelling novel is written for the intellect, though it is dominated by sorcery and magic so arcane that a lexicon is provided -- but having the words does not mean that the reader can possess or describe these events with rationality or continuity. Something happens, something else happens, then magic happens and the flow of the story slides into another dimension. There are three equally engaging narrative streams here: the story of Jane Doe, an anthropologist living under ...more
Claudia Putnam
This was an astonishing read. Slow start, but to me it felt consistent with the simmering, humid heat in Florida. The narrator's voice captured me, and I had no doubt that she was going to take me somewhere interesting. And it certainly was interesting, including a real-world, anthropologically based theory of sorcery. As in, how, if it existed, it might actually work, without any hocus-pocus.

I was disappointed that Jimmy Paz turned out to be the focus of the three-book series. He was okay as a
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gruber is amazing at being able to set a scene and draw the reader into it. As with his later book, The Book of Air and Shadows, he has several pots boiling on the stove at once, yet one does not get the feeling that he is writing formulaic "pot-boilers." What is real and what is illusion? These are questions Gruber visits over and over, and just when one thinks one has a handle on things, he can pull the rug from beneath one's feet. Stephen King may be the Maestro of "Creep Fiction," but I thin ...more
Jonah Gibson
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very slick, very smart, and very scary book that defies genre. It's blend of traditional elements of mystery and thriller with a very believable and scientific explanation for what appears to be real supernatural African witchcraft is nothing short of astonishing. The main characters, Jane Doe and detective Jimmy Paz are credible and engaging on multiple levels. The underlying premise is frightening in and of itself, but as layers of historicity, science, and psychology are peeled back ...more
Nov 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another terrific thriller from Michael Gruber. This was a little spooky, since I had just finished the nonfiction The Spell of the Sensuous by a scientist (psychology, philosophy, anthropology) and slight-of-hand magician who studied and compared notes with shamans and gives them considerable respect and credibility. Tropic of Night is about an anthropologist who studied with shamans and - let's just say it was very easy to suspend my disbelief. I don't often read fantasy or supernatural stuff, ...more
Elena Bougioukou
Absolutely great and terrifying book. Not only a good thriller that combines the natural scare with the supernatural but also very informative in terms of anthropological/cultural information. It is not an easy book comparing to others, there's a lot of information going around and time goes back and forth, so the reader must pay attention or will get lost and tired. If you want a simple- easy scare, this is not the book for you. If an in-depth analysis of the human psyche, racism, murder and my ...more
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scribd, 2019
Well, THAT was quite the ride!

Tropic of Night is a thriller/mystery with supernatural elements. It bounces back and forth in time from the viewpoint of Jane Doe. Jane is a bright, wealthy anthropologist. She's studied (though not really understood) a secretive tribe in Siberia, and another (with more understanding) in Africa. She's been in hiding for a couple of years after her return from Africa. She's hiding from her husband, who's apparently fallen wholeheartedly in love with The Dark Side of
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a terrific read. It lived up to everything J.C. Grice said about it. J.C., has Gruber written anything else this good? It was hard to put it down. Characters lived and breathed, plot was interesting and unpredictable, writing wonderful---what more could you ask for? Gory describing the crimes, but the crimes were gory. I didn't feel they were dwelled on more than necessary. Leaves you thinking about people who are revealed to be have a monstrous side to their personality that they keep ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I read Tropic of Night, first of the Jimmy Paz trilogy, out of order after Valley of Bones. Of the two it's possible I liked Valley of Bones more. But barely. I highly recommend this author and his imaginative, beautifully written work.
Andy Gavin
I read this book both because it was represented by an agent I was interested in and because it loosely fit the ill-defined cross-genre of my own novel: Supernatural thriller with realistic style and magic. In fact, in this book it's not even 100% clear that the magic is intended to have actually happened -- but I like to think it did. There's a lot of interesting stuff going on here, particularly to my taste. There are three points of view, and not all are as good. One is the female protagonist ...more
Rosina Lippi
I read so many really wonderful reviews of this book, I finally found a copy. And the first couple chapters made it clear that this guy can write. On every level. Strong, very visible characters, disturbing, unusual conflicts, and a story that goes zero to sixty like a really, really expensive car.

And it’s interesting. The story is about a woman hiding out in southern Florida. She was once a cultural anthropologist, working with a tribe in Africa for a long period of time on matters of belief sy
Feb 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Definitely not a mystery/thriller that you can just whip through; at times I felt that I was being lectured to. Granted, I like lectures, and I found quite a bit of the anthropology interesting. No doubt Gruber did a massive amount of research to construct this tale. But it will not be too enjoyable for readers who don't want to work. The two main characters are interesting enough, but the constantly changing narrative POV is not my favorite delivery. And it is much less a whodunit as a whatyago ...more
Sep 25, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
I just don't get this book. According to the blurbs on the back cover this is the best thing since sliced bread. Second coming of Hemingway or Melville. I don't know. It's his first book, I believe, so I'll cut him some slack and not give it one star. Husband and wife go to Africa and study socery, witchcraft, black magic, whatever. Then he practices his stuff on pregnant women, murdering them, in Florida. Story goes back and forth in time, to and from Africa, with a ton of mumbo-jumbo terms thr ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: folklore-magic
I don't read too much fiction, but a friend whose taste I trust passed this one on to me and it was excellent.

It's a moving story about a woman who has had her reality shifted. She started out as a child of privilege in a wealthy east coast family, and became an anthropologist in college. After marriage, she continued her studies with her husband, but their trip to Africa changed both of them - in some frightening ways.

The book shifts between her journals from the African trip and her current si
Yves Fey
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most unusal and brilliant thrillers I've encountered. And no, don't read it if you only like a simple straight forward narrative. The plot is quite decipherable, but the book weaves together the present stories of the two main protagonists Paz and Jane Doe, with the "past" via Jane's journal. I think the construction is almost flawless. The prose is gorgeous, but without sacrificing the suspense. The book lagged only the tiniest bit toward the end, then picked up again for a m ...more
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, crime
Two extremely sharp protagonists approach a series of ritual murders from opposite ends. One is an anthropologist, the other a detective, so both perspectives are spellbindingly detail-oriented. Whereas some writers would exploit Santeria for racist shock value, Gruber writes of a precursor to Santeria with immense respect. Along with the anthropologist, readers become so immersed in Olo culture that Gruber sidesteps skepticism--and casts a side character's Christian fervor in an interesting new ...more
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars. A multi-layered, multi-textured, well-crafted novel. There are parts of this story that I loved, and parts I didn't like so much (but those parts were more about my personal tastes in fiction and not about the author's storytelling and craft). In fact, about 2/3 the way through I was dead set on 3 stars, debating with myself if I wanted to read the next book in the series, but about that point in the book it became a page turner that kept me glued in until the end. It was as if differ ...more
Sam Soule
Ultimately an unplanned but entirely fitting Halloween read. Had no idea the Detective Jimmy Paz series was such a "magical realism" type crime affair, something I instinctively shy away from BUT, like Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri Paiboun books, I liked this one in very large chunks. Excitedly. Totally down for the next installment.
Witchcraft and murder? What´s not to love?
Sharon Huether
Aug 19, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrill, thriller
Tropic of Night By Michael Gruber I could not finish this book. It jumped around too much and I didn't like it. (library book)
Rachel Funk
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can't say enough good things about this book, this whole series for that matter. I love the characters, Paz, his family, everyone. Gripping read, fantastic plot. Won't say anymore, just read it.
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Michael Gruber is an author living in Seattle, Washington. He attended Columbia University and received his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Miami. He worked as a cook, a marine biologist, a speech writer, a policy advisor for the Jimmy Carter White House, and a bureaucrat for the EPA before becoming a novelist.

He is generally acknowledged to be the ghostwriter of the popular Robert K. Tane

Other books in the series

Jimmy Paz (3 books)
  • Valley of Bones (Jimmy Paz, #2)
  • Night of the Jaguar (Jimmy Paz, #3)

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