Book Review: Tears of the Jaguar, by A.J.Hartley

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An Archeological Dig Leads to Murder

After reading the book, The Dig, by Michael Siemsen, I was in the mood for another novel of archeological fiction. When I ran across Tears of the Jaguar, by A. J. Hartley, I knew I’d found it. It combines a bit of history with mystery and suspense, all while digging for ancient knowledge.

Archeology is fascinating to me; the plotting of the site, the extreme care taken in uncovering any finds, the history, the artifacts found that give us a glimpse of what life was like in an earlier time.

While on a dig at a Mayan site in Mexico, a sudden heavy rain storm opens a sink hole at the dig, exposing an incredible find. Within a chamber thousands of years old, they find bones–and a magnificent collection of jewels from a more recent time.

With the discovery comes the theft of the jewels and murder. Deborah Miller, in charge of the dig, sets out to find the history of the gems in an effort to find who and why they were stolen. There are plenty of suspects, both on the team and off. Plus three nations want control of the find; Mexico, the United States, and England.

Add in witchcraft, mind altering drugs, kidnapping, and a dangerous arms dealer. You can imagine the havoc. A. J. Hartley brings it all together in an exciting, enjoyable novel.

By the way, if you enjoy mysteries involving archeology, you might like to read the review I did on The Dig. It was another fun adventure!

The Story

The story is told by various characters. That usually makes it interesting and more complex, which I like. I confess I got a little confused at times during this one, with so many different angles. That could be because I was listening while traveling. It can be hard to stay focused between plane changes, noisy flights, and all the interruptions.

A treasure of ancient jewels are discovered at a dig in the Yucatan in Mexico, which is exciting to begin with.  When the stolen jewels lead Deborah to England, she discovers their link to Lancashire in 1612.

The history and the search were both quite interesting. The mystery of the Mayan civilization is always intriguing. Including the history of the gems back to the early 1600’s was a bonus too. A novel of this nature is an excellent way to blend the ancient with the contemporary.

Details and More in the Series

Published in September of 2012, the book is 465 pages in length, and available in paperback or Kindle formats. You can also get the unabridged audio version, narrated by Tanya Eby. It runs 11 hours and 20 minutes. I enjoyed the audio, and the narrator very much.

It’s a good read, and part of a series that include main character, Deborah Miller. I hadn’t realized that when I purchased it. I enjoyed this one enough that I will look forward to reading the rest of the series.

A. J. Hartley, Phd, Professor, and Author

A J Hartley write a variety of books. This one, featuring Deborah Miller, has a few others in a series. Another character, Thomas Knight overlaps in a couple. They are contemporary novels, but most revolve around history. Very interesting premise and enjoyable to read.

Besides the archeological thrillers, he’s written historical novels and co-written Macbeth from a play into a novel. Along with his co-author, they’ve added more history to it that you could find in a play, including a political backdrop, battles, and intrigue. It sounds like a fascinating way to read a Shakespeare classic. It’s also written with contemporary language to make it easier to read and comprehend.

He’s written science-fiction and fantasy, some in the young adult genre. All that plus he is a college professor teaching Shakespeare at UNC Charlotte. Personally I hope for more Deborah Miller and Thomas Knight.


Mask of Atreus  A secret room filled with a wealth of Greek antiquities also holds a body. Deborah’s co-worker is found dead and a death mask missing. The history involves the Nazis, but still today factions are after the treasure. Deborah Miller, museum curator is determined to find out why, if she isn’t killed first.


The Mask of Atreus

On the Fifth Day  Another Deborah Miller novel. This is my next read by Mr Hartley. Thomas Knight’s brother discovered an amazing secret before he died mysteriously. This time Deborah and Thomas follow his search for the history of ancient Christian symbols.

On the Fifth Day


Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Alzheimers HQ and Simple Living Ideas

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