Mike Bond’s House of Jaguar is a thriller which revolves around the protagonist Murphy, a Vietnam veteran who now makes his living flying drugs deep in the jungle. True to Bond’s writing style as read in The Last Savanna and Saving Paradise, his novels comprise descriptions not for the faint of heart as well as steadfast political commentary:
The priest lay with his cheekbone crushed, his nose ripped open and bent to one side. His collarbone looked broken, too, one arm dislocated at the elbow and shoulder. The wrist was bent, too, clearly broken. Lucky for him, Lyman thought, that I was there to save him. (59)
For me, the difficulties lie in the seemingly invincible characteristics of the male in this novel: able to release himself from the confines of rope, overtake four men in a weakened state, and then commandeer a falling helicopter in order to fly off into the sunset with his life force after being beaten, chased, starved, etc. Really?
In addition, Bond’s stream of consciousness placement of words on the page resulted in a disjointed storyline which distracted along with the numerous grammatical errors. The potential is there, but this piece of work needs a good cleansing from an editor.
For the purposes of book club, monkey stew complete with short, coarse hairs could be an option, but Andrew Zimmern I am not. Instead, a spread with various tortilla dishes sounds more appetizing for the masses.
Having just finished Mike Bond’s The Last Savanna, I find I now have an unquenchable thirst and am downing glass of ice water after glass of ice water as I type due to Bond’s vivid descriptions of the African sun:
All this was nothing to the sun which bore down like a molten weight dropped from a great height, always, every millisecond, crushing her, flaying her shoulders through the white cotton shirt, as if the fabric were not even there, or worse, as if it magnified the heat. Sun lacerated her neck and the inside of her throat with each intaken breath; it was an oven from which she could not withdraw her face, her hair so hot it burned her skull. (89)
Besides the vivid descriptions, Bond tells of elephant poaching in Africa, and the desire of protagonist MacAdam, a rancher, and his longtime friend Nehemiah to put an end to it. While part of a special unit, MacAdam learns of the kidnapping of a former lover, Rebecca. Thus, a complex journey through the desert ensues with danger from both the landscape and man lurking around every corner.
In addition, Bond, true to his writing, makes political and social commentary throughout:
Too much Coca Cola and motor vehicles have slowed even the Maasai. Every strength sows the seeds of future weakness: material advances destroy our defenses against the primitive. (52)
Although a gourd full of camel’s blood and milk rinsed with urine (97) may be needed for survival in the desert, this may not be the ideal choice for book club. Even cold ugali (58) probably would not tempt discussion. Instead, a vast array of flavored waters: cucumber, lemon, strawberry/lime, seems ideal to prompt discussion of Bond’s The Last Savanna.