Tears of the Jaguar
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Six months ago, museum curator Deborah Miller had never heard of Ek Balam, an obscure Mayan archaeological site known for its carved figures. Now here she is, having traded Atlanta’s urban jungle for a remote village in Mexico’s Yucatan, tasked with overseeing Ek Balam’s excavation. But when a sudden rainstorm causes a partial collapse at the site, an unexpected treasure is unearthed: a collection of rough-cut rubies hidden from the world for hundreds of years—and very out-of-place in the Yucatan. It is a find of immeasurable value, one that Deborah vows to protect—and yet is powerless to prevent from being stolen soon after its discovery. Determined to retrieve the stones, she sets out to trace their complex history across four centuries and two continents, from Mexico to northern England where the jewels once played a harrowing role in the Lancashire witch trials of 1612. But Deborah is not the only one searching for the stones; close on her heels are archaeologists, occultists, and one very determined arms dealer, all of whom will stop at nothing, not even murder, to claim the prize for themselves.
blood, but she didn’t let go of her wounded arm, which was throbbing. In fact, she was almost as stung by what Alice had said as by the blow. She hung her head, suddenly exhausted and defeated, and it was only then that she realized that the hypodermic that had hung limply from Marissa Stroud’s dead fingers, was gone. She forced herself not to look up, not to stare at Alice, not right away. When she did raise her eyes, Alice had already reached Dimitri, was handing him the cord of threaded
like flint tools and nodded, before her attention moved to a dark greenstone axe head. And there was more. There were carved bone tubes that might have been feather fan holders or bloodletting instruments. There was jade jewelry, some of it a rare blue color. There were two metates, the stone mortars used for grinding corn. Then there were stingray spines and red ocher sticks. There were bones, some of them parts of deer heads, and when she looked back to the collapsed skeleton she saw that it
these damned pyramids, but he managed them with athletic ease. “Hold it,” she called as he reached the halfway point. “I’ll come down.” She stubbed out her cigarette and navigated the stairs carefully, trying not to look too cautious. The guy was cute, and it wasn’t like she had anything better to do than try to make a good impression. “Looks like I’m going to have to work on my mountain goat skills,” he said, as she got down. “Hi. I’m the cameraman. Nick Reese.” “Alice,” she said simply,
him. He was well built, even athletic, and looked furious. Deborah frowned and began the slow climb down the tower without answering. He started shouting before she reached the bottom. “You want to tell me what the bloody hell is going on here?” he yelled. Deborah said nothing till she reached the ground, steeling herself to remain calm. “I’m sorry,” she said politely. “You are?” “He’s the photographer,” Alice said. “Nick. From England.” “OK, Nick from England,” said Deborah. “What’s your
course, doubly so since there was no tradition of crystals or stones being used in witchcraft in seventeenth-century England. All that New Age stuff about crystals and Wicca is completely different. The Lancashire witches weren’t practitioners of some alternative religion. They were poor, uneducated people who clung to whatever power people assumed they had, and their charms—such as they were—were garbled old Catholic prayers tacked on to folk remedies and curses: old-fashioned sympathetic magic.