Introducing Ron Chatterjee and The Colony of Roses – A Novel of Murder and Politics Set in 1960’s India

The Colony of Roses by Ron ChatterjeeMEDIAARIA CDM is proud to announce the signing of writer Ron Chatterjee for the publication of his debut novel – THE COLONY OF ROSES.

Possessing all the ingredients to be a literary master work of its genre, THE COLONY OF ROSES is a story of murder and politics set against the backdrop of a changing 1960s India, where societal issues of abortion and divorce rages between political factions of the ultra-left and ultra-right. Told in the best tradition of Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy, over the course of seventy-two hours, THE COLONY OF ROSES follows the investigation of an Indian homicide detective’s dogged pursuit of the truth and his journey deeper and deeper into the shady and macabre world of lovable rogues, fall guys, femme fatales, corrupt cops, idealists and all the myriad quirky characters that inhabits THE COLONY OF ROSES.

Ron Chatterjee was born in a small town in West Bengal, India, where his life experiences would inspire his high-octane political thriller. Ron immigrated to the United States twenty years ago and has since settled into small town American life. Ron currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter working on his second novel.

Prepare to enter an intricate world of dysfunctional characters, greed and head-spinning adventure that will leave you guessing until the explosive end in Ron Chatterjee’s debut novel – THE COLONY OF ROSES.

To keep updated with news concerning Ron Chatterjee’s THE COLONY OF ROSES, click here. The novel is due for release in 2015.

Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason

Book Review
Title: Three Graves Full
Author: Jamie Mason
Publisher: Gallery Books
Released: February 12, 2013
Pages: 320
ISBN-10: 1451685033
ISBN-13: 978-1451685039
Stars: 4.0


“There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard.”  This is the first line of North Carolina author Jamie Mason’s debut novel, Three Graves Full.  The first chapter is so compelling that you can’t help but keep reading this delightfully macabre tale, laced with black humour and tied up with suspense.

Every event is boxed in by a set of facts; the truth as it were.  There’s the what and the when of a deed; there’s where it happened and how it was done.  But it’s at the why that the liar’s margin begins.  It’s from this border that we launch the justifications for everything we do, and for all that we allow to be done to us.  Only our distance from the hard truth and the direction of our push – toward or away from it – is the measure of our virtue.

The protagonist, Jason Getty, is a meek and insecure widower living alone in his little house on Old Green Valley Road in suburban Stillwater, MI.  Well, he’s not entirely alone…as those who live with a deep, dark secret know.  He’s a murderer.  But like Dexter, he’s a killer that we can empathize with as we begin to understand the circumstances surrounding the fateful night that has left his conscience in agony seventeen months later.  He doesn’t eat and doesn’t sleep, but somnambulates through his boring life as an office clerk, rationalizing that “no worry has ever been invented that the mind cannot bully down into mere background noise.”

Little by little Jason finds himself relaxing and able to think about normal things.  Worried about what his neighbours will think of his unkempt property, he hires a landscaping crew to clean it up.  However, on the second day of the job they discover two graves in his backyard that Jason didn’t dig.  Although terrified, he’s forced to call the police to deal with the grisly discovery, all the while praying that they don’t find the third grave.

Next, we meet Leah Tamblin, the grieving girlfriend of the missing young man (Reid) found buried in Jason’s backyard, whom as it turns out, was cheating on her with the married woman (Katielynn Montgomery) found buried beside him.  It seems that Boyd Montgomery, a hardened redneck who named his dogs after The Beatles, didn’t take kindly to discovering that his wife was screwing another man, and from this point on, in a horrifying comedy of errors, action ensues as the plot thickens.

Detectives Tim Bayard and Ford Watts (who I envisioned as actor David Morse), accompanied by his devoted and very intelligent dog Tessa, round out the main cast of characters. After all, someone has to solve this mystery!  I loved that Mason made Tessa a main character and gave her a voice (frequently written from a first person/canine viewpoint) that this dog owner could easily identify with.  Chocked full of hilarious one-liners and unusually well-written and fully realized characters, Three Graves Full will make an excellent screenplay that’ll be a joy to cast, and with just the right cool soundtrack, could end up being a celluloid cult classic.

Mason’s narrative is fast-paced, sharp and scathingly witty.  Her innovative story takes us on a ride not unlike the one we experience when watching a Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths), Quentin Tarantino or Coen brothers’ film.  Her development of Jason’s internal conflict and the inevitability of his having to face the consequences of his actions is superb. You’ll laugh and squirm at the same time as you viscerally experience the unhinging of his sanity.

Simon & Schuster were wise to buy her manuscript as Jamie Mason’s clever, unique voice and piercing prose is so much better than the average pulp fiction.  When this book is released on February 12, 2013, I urge you to buy it.

The Reckoning by Alma Katsu

Book Review
Title: The Reckoning
Author: Alma Katsu
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Release: June 2012
Pages: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-4516-5180-5
Stars: 4.0

The Reckoning by Alma Katsu picks up where the first book in her supernatural, gothic trilogy, The Taker, ends.  Katsu describes The Taker as “a story about desire, obsession and the dark things we sometimes do for love.”  It’s also about the curse of immortality and the price paid by its victims.

I didn’t realize that The Taker was part of a trilogy when I read and reviewed it for Simon & Schuster Canada, but now that I’ve read the second book, I can’t wait for the final piece of this extraordinarily compelling puzzle which is currently known as The Descent.  This trilogy is a Twilight for adults (R-rated) although its main characters are not vampires.  While I found The Taker to be quite melancholy because of its focus on an unrequited love story, The Reckoning, is more visceral and suspenseful in the way it expresses Lanny’s terror in being reunited with her maker, Adair, which is her worst nightmare made manifest.

The Reckoning opens with main character, Lanore “Lanny” McIlvrae, a 200 year old immortal, living with her latest human lover, Dr. Luke Findley in London, England.  Lanny has just donated a collection of lost 19th century artifacts to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the featured treasure being a fan autographed to her by the poet, Lord Byron that had been given to her by the love her life: the astonishingly beautiful Jonathan St. Andrew.  We learn more about why Jonathan begged Lanny to release him from the chains of immortality, why she agreed, and the ultimate price she has to pay for her actions.

Near the end of The Taker, we discover that Lanny and Jonathan have sealed their maker, Adair (the Count cel Rau from Romania), in the walls of his Boston home, but two centuries later, the house is demolished and Adair is free to seek revenge on his imprisoners.  Only Lanny knows the horrors that Adair is capable of inflicting and she realizes that she can’t allow Luke to stay with her and continue to live as a fugitive when it’s only a matter of time before Adair catches up with them and unleashes his vengeance.  The narrative unfolds primarily between London and Boston with pit stops in ancient Venice, Casablanca, Marquette, Michigan, Maine, Barcelona, Pisa, Aspen, Colorado and Lake Garda, Italy as Lanny tries to keep as much distance as possible between herself and Adair.

Adair’s minions, the greedy Jude, the fiendish Tilde (who is exquisitely demonic!) and the deceptive Alejandro are back in this volume, and we meet two other immortals bound to Adair: the long-suffering Savva and his newest convert, Pendleton.  These secondary characters are integral to the story and are tremendously entertaining, but it is Adair who you will never forget.  He’s a 21st century Lestat, only far less charming and much more vicious.

The Reckoning is Adair’s story and it’s the tale of an immortal man who has existed for almost 1,000 years in a body that doesn’t belong to him. He’s a man who is so morally bankrupt and inherently evil that everyone who knows him fears him for the monster that he is.  What makes him truly captivating is that although Adair essentially still possesses a human soul, his is a soul who might just be the only soul in all creation who has never been loved.  This is the story of a soul whose battle is against his desire to change and his inability to overcome his intrinsic nature.

Could a person like that change?  I didn’t want to be uncharitable; I wanted to believe everyone is capable of change, of acting selflessly, of becoming a better person.  The longer we live, the more we understand and develop empathy for our fellow man, and are moved to change our selfish ways.  I would hate to meet the person who was forever inured to the misery of others.

Adair, who is well-practiced in the art of alchemy, is so powerful that not only is he capable of astral travel and lighting fires with his mind, but he can raise the dead.  And he just might have to spend all of eternity engaged in penitence for his sins.  Even though he’s a rapist and a murderer, Katsu writes him with such complexity and compassion that we can find empathy for him as he endures his own torture.

By the end of The Reckoning, we realize that Lanny, who on the outside appears as a kidnapping victim suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, is bound to Adair for eternity, no matter where she goes, what she does, or who she loves, and therein lies her fate.

I love a good paranormal mystery/romance and this trilogy by Alma Katsu will fit perfectly between my collection of Anne Rice, Clive Barker and Stephenie Meyer novels.  I see movies of these books being made and envision Rufus Sewell as Adair and Mia Wasilkowska as Lanny, but I can’t yet imagine what actor could be considered beautiful enough to play Jonathan.  Johnny Depp is unfortunately now too old for the part.

I feel privileged to have been able to read an advanced reader’s edition of The Reckoning and will be a die-hard fan of Katsu’s for as long as she continues to write.

The Lincoln Lawyer Will Keep You Guessing Until The End!

DVD REVIEW
Title: The Lincoln Lawyer
Studio/Distributor: eOne Films
Director: Brad Furman
Principle Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Frances Fisher
Length: 118 minutes
Released: 2011
Stars: 4.0

Adapted from the crime thriller by best-selling author Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer is a stylized, gritty and intelligent film from relatively new director Brad Furman (The Take) with an R-rated screenplay by John Romano.  It explores the corrupt justice system in Los Angeles from the perspective of a criminal defence attorney named Mick Haller, played by Matthew McConaughey, in what is his best performance since 2001’s Frailty.  I love McConaughey and am really pleased to see him step up his game and give those tedious and predictable rom-coms he’s been making a rest!

Haller is a wheeler dealer and bottom feeder who “feels the most resonance and the most humane” dealing with the dregs of society.  In his world, “There’s no client as scary as an innocent man.”  He works mainly in the non-glamorous parts of Los Angeles, from his 1987 Lincoln Town Car, in which he is chauffeured between client meetings, prisons and courthouses by his trusted employee, Earl.  Earl (Laurence Mason) is über cool and has one of the best lines with the zinger, “You’re nobody ‘til somebody shoots you.”

Haller abides by his own set of rules, buying favours from bailiffs, prostitutes and bike gangs (Country music star Trace Adkins plays imposing biker leader Eddie Vogel) to secure what he needs to get the job done.  As the story unfolds we discover that Haller’s former client Jesus Martinez (Michael Peña) is in San Quentin for a murder he insists he didn’t commit and Haller’s doubt about his guilt is significant.  His GQ-immaculate image slowly starts to deteriorate as he realizes that the pressures of his job cause him to drink more and a haggard look of grief appears on his handsome face.

Available in both English and French on DVD, The Lincoln Lawyer sports an A-1 cast of accomplished actors including, most notably, a better than usual performance by Ryan Phillippe as the ultra creepy, 32 year old wealthy realtor, Louis Roulet, whom after being accused of raping a prostitute seeks out Mick Haller to defend him.  We learn later in the story that he had a good reason for choosing Haller and there are more twists and turns in this plot than a New York pretzel.  Frances Fisher is equally sinister as Roulet’s mother, Mary Windsor, and a long-haired William H. Macy portrays Mick’s investigator, Frank Levin.  Although Macy’s part is relatively small, it’s integral to the story arc as is John Leguizamo’s as bail bondsman Val Valenzuela.

Marisa Tomei plays Maggie McPherson, Haller’s ex and the mother of his daughter Hayley.  She’s a prosecutor who obviously found it hard to be married to a public defender, but the lines defining her relationship with Mick are blurry, and the two still love each other even if they couldn’t live together.  One of their key scenes was deleted and I really think that it should have been left in.

Rounding out the cast is Josh Lucas as attorney Ted Minton who represents Reggie Campo, the prostitute that Roulet is accused of raping.

Cliff Martinez orchestrates the music for the score and he’s done a superb job of finding some very appropriate and above average rap and bluesy hip hop for the soundtrack.  I’m not a fan of those musical genres but in this film, they are perfect.

Special features on the DVD are above average and include some interesting documentaries: Michael Connelly: At Home On The Road, Making The Case: The Lincoln Lawyer, One On One with Matthew McConaughey and Michael Connelly (during which they interview each other), as well as Deleted Scenes and the original trailer.

The Lincoln Lawyer is a great, satisfying film that will keep you on the edge of your seat, even if the ending is a bit soft.  One of the minor characters in the film asks, “I don’t get you Haller.  Whose side are you on anyway?”  You will wonder about that yourself until the very end!

The 18th Brigade by Conrad Jones


*Warning: Depiction of explicit violence.

2 STARS

The 18th Brigade is a stand-alone novel written by the author of the award winning ‘Soft Target’ trilogy [Readers’ Choice Award on Amazon.com]. It is a ‘Tank’ (John Tankersley) novel. The book is an intense thriller set in the UK, involving recent events of mercenary forces returning home from the war torn Middle East.”

That is the description on the back cover of Warrington, UK author Conrad Jones’ fourth book, The 18th Brigade. Conrad has been a Facebook friend for some time and I really wanted to read one of his books so he graciously sent me a copy of The 18th Brigade to review. I feel very bad about the fact that I didn’t like this nice man’s book, at all. This is however, no reflection on him personally, as I think he is a very good writer and has a lot to be proud of.

AlthoughThe 18th Brigade is incredibly ambitious storytelling and quite well written (despite the numerous typos I found in the book), it is also perhaps, the most violent book I have ever read and I am not easily offended. It is filled with characters I despised and had absolutely no sympathy or empathy for. While sadly, they might be based on people who exist in real life – from Neo-Nazi skinhead thugs to drug-addled, immigrant Somalis to British Special Forces mercenaries – these are not men you can like, understand or accept their barbaric nature, no matter what their circumstances. There is no good guy to root for and I’m not sure if Conrad Jones was making this point with his book. I have had to put it down so many times because of how much it disturbed me that it has taken an unusually long time to read. As a result, I’ve found the plot to be somewhat confusing in places as it flashes between various locations and subplots.

The story begins with a roadside bombing in Baghdad in which 17 Iraqi civilians are slaughtered by an ex-Royal marine who mistakenly identifies the members of a white Opal as being suicide bombers for Islamic extremists. It is explained to the reader that “in both Iraq and Afghanistan there are more mercenaries than regular soldiers. Blackwater and the 18th Brigade are two such private security firms used by the American government.” If any of this novel is based on the slightest bit of truth, and I’m sure it is, I have to say that there are no good guys anywhere when it comes to war and the selling of arms (this point is well stressed in the movie Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage, Ethan Hawke and Jared Leto). The 18th Brigade is filled with heinous characters and laced with beatings, bombings, burnings, dismemberment, explosions, shootings, stabbings, and then some!

There is one particularly vile, stupid character by the name of Brendon who is a member of the 18th Brigade task force:

‘I think we were followed by a surveillance team, don’t say anything about the Somalis’ the note read.

“Why would they think it was us?” Brendon piped up, trying to join in the pretence, but not quite having the intelligence to carry it off.

Jay and Terry looked at each other in disbelief, shaking their heads.

“Have you had a look in the mirror lately, you stupid twat?” Jay answered him. Brendon flushed bright red realising how stupid he had sounded. His hand went to touch the swastika tattoo under his right ear almost unconsciously, confirming that he looked every inch the racist thug that he was, as did all his colleagues.”

The head Somali Yardie that these men are looking for is an equally abominable human being named Omar; a despicable man who easily kills his own men once they’ve outlived their usefulness to him:

“Omar slammed the car door shut on his fingers. The man screamed and released his grip on the car. Omar opened the door, and then slammed it shut again. The driver’s fingers were bloodied stumps, the nails cracked and split, his breathing was becoming more erratic, making him sound like he was drowning in his own blood. Omar took his blade from his jacket, and he grabbed the battered driver by the chin. His long bony fingers held the man’s face in a vice like grip, as he carved his nose into two, lengthways, from his forehead to his top lip. The driver let out a blood curdling scream as the cold blade cut him to the bone, slicing the cartilage like butter, scraping his bones and ripping the soft tissue.”

There are many passages that are just as violent and grotesque, if not more.

It would seem that Mr. Jones has experienced some of this level of violence in his real life, as attested to by a newspaper article entitled “Author Foretold Mumbai Attacks” by Geoff Abbott of the North Wales Chronicle. In the article, Abbott writes,

“In March 1993, Conrad was working as an assistant manager at MacDonald’s in Warrington (where much of The 18th Brigade is set), when the IRA exploded two bombs planted in cast iron litter bins.

The first blast outside Boots drove panicking shoppers towards the second bomb outside Argos which exploded seconds later showering the victims in shrapnel and killing Jonathan Ball, aged 3 and Tim Parry, 12.

Conrad said the harrowing memories of the Warrington bombings have scarred him for life but admits to using his books as a kind of “therapy” to relieve the trauma.”

I live in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and thankfully, so far, no terrorists have ever set off bombs here so I can’t quite imagine what it would be like to live in an area of the world where such a tragedy is not surprising news. However, I have been to Northern Ireland and I understand the reasons behind its troubled and violent history and I can certainly empathize with the victims of IRA and other militant fundamentalist acts of terror and so I empathize with the pain and suffering experienced by Conrad Jones.

I don’t know if I would have liked The 18th Brigade more if I’d read the three previous Soft Target novels, but I don’t think I’ll ever find out because these kinds of stories are not for me. I’ve enjoyed political and suspense thrillers by John le Carré, Scott Turow and Robert Ludlum and I love the television series 24 (which this book reminds me of slightly), but there’s no Jack Bauer here to applaud. John Tankersley just isn’t likeable enough. In fact, he doesn’t come into the story until Chapter 18 and is only featured in 11 short chapters out of 65.

If you enjoy action-packed thrillers filled with vivid descriptions of a myriad of ways in which a person can die…by all means, check it out! There are, in fact, quite a few readers on Amazon.com who gave this book a 5 star rating.