Let me start by saying that the cover is beautiful. Pat Wildman looks amazing. Mark Sparacio does an amazing job on the cover that pales compared to the piece he did for the signature page which took my breath away. Meteor House has done an amazing job on this book (just as they did for their previous novella Exiles of Kho).
So to quote the proverb, you can't judge a book by its cover. So how does the book measure up to the cover? For me, the cover is a great ad for the book that hints at the awesomeness that we find in the book. When the book arrived, I was in the middle of The Complete Domino Lady (which reprints the seven pulp stories and a new story by Steranko who also provides some amazing artwork). I put it to one side to read The Scarlet Jaguar, fully intending to go straight back. I finished The Scarlet Jaguar with a big grin on my face and proceeded to reread the whole thing again. That's how much I enjoyed the book.
When we left Pat Wildman at the end of The Evil in Pemberley House, she had founded Empire Investigations with Charles Peter Parker. The Scarlet Jaguar opens a year later with Empire Investigations being hired to investigate the disappearance of a British Diplomat in a South American country that was moving towards democracy. What follows is a slam bang pulp ride with Wildman and Parker joined by Helen Benson, the daughter of The Domino Lady and The Avenger. Our trio of heroes face a weapon that can turn people and objects into red glass and The Scarlet Jaguar has threatened to use the weapon on the Panama Canal. Pat Wildman and her team race to stop this from happening.
Eckert has given us another exciting story, liberally sprinkled with references to other stories series and characters. One of Win's great talents is that he can drop these easter eggs and not bog the story down. I was pleasantly surprised to see an appearance of another of Philip Jose Farmer's creations in a cameo role with a hint of an earlier adventure with Pat Wildman. (which I want to read now - The Midget Airplane Heist is such a tantalising hint)
If The Evil in Pemberley House left us wanting more adventures of Pat Wildman, The Scarlet Jaguar lives up to that promise and further whets our appetite. In The Foreword, Eckert tells of his 2009 meeting with Lady Patricia and how he got permission to edit and publish the Memoirs of Pat Wildman and how she gave him notes that form the basis for a number of other stories (his three Avenger stories, The Adventure of the Falling Stone, The Wild Huntsman and Honey West/T.H.E. Cat: A Girl and her Cat.)
Win's stories are like those photo mosaics; each picture is complete but when you step back and look at the big picture it is a part of the larger tapestry.
The scene on the cover does happen in the story. If I had to make a complaint it would be that Mark Sparacio didn't give us a drawing of Helen Benson (who I'd also like to see in a solo adventure).
This is a great story and well worth getting if you can.
**Update: This won The New Pulp Awards Best Novella & Best Cover Art **