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.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. StedmanBook Review
Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author:  M.L. Stedman
Publisher: Scribner
Released: July 31, 2012
Pages: 352
ISBN-10: 9781451681734
ISBN-13: 978-1451681734
Stars:  4.5

“On the day of the miracle, Isabel was kneeling at the cliff’s edge, tending the small, newly made driftwood cross.  A single fat cloud snailed across the late-April sky, which stretched above the island in a mirror of the ocean below.” 

From the opening lines of M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans, I was captivated by her sumptuous prose and engrossed in her exceedingly genuine main characters, Tom Sherbourne and his wife Isabel (Izzy) Graysmark. We’re introduced to them on a life-changing day before Stedman backtracks to Tom’s life eight years earlier and reveals how he became a lighthouse keeper, where he met Isabel and what brought them to this place.

I love stories that are set on or near water and there’s always been something mysterious and romantic about lighthouses, that je ne sais quois being something that Stedman was able to articulate in a most alluring fashion.  I wanted to know how a marriage could survive in the isolated confines of an island lighthouse on the coast of Western Australia in the 1920s which is why I chose to read this New York Times Bestseller.  I wasn’t at all disappointed.  I could smell the ocean breeze, taste the salty air, feel the rhythm of the waves, and see the way the light was magnified from the lighthouse’s lens over the water.  The romantic nature of Tom & Izzy’s island life was palpable.  I fell in love with the story and didn’t want it to end.

Their newlywed life on Janus Rock in 1922 is at first idyllic as inquisitive Izzy enjoys discovering everything there is to know about her new home and her husband’s job.  “On the Lights, you account for every single day.  You write up the log, you report what’s happened, you produce evidence that life goes on.”  A lighthouse keeper must keep not only a spotless station, but faultless records, as it’s a government appointed position that is held to the highest standards. After four years at war where “right and wrong don’t look so different any more to some,” Tom seeks peace and simplicity and can’t believe that this lovely young woman is happy to live alone with him on the islet where the supply boat (helmed by Ralph and Bluey) only arrives once a season and shore leave to Point Partageuse is granted only every other year.

Tom and Izzy are blissfully happy and it’s not long before they try to have a family. As is often the case for the most deserving parents, this couple is unfairly dealt emotional blow after blow as Izzy suffers three miscarriages over several years.  When one day a small boat washes up on their shore carrying a dead man and a perfectly healthy baby girl, we completely understand why Izzy, in her grief, chooses to make the decision to keep the baby and raise her as her own. She begs Tom to bury the man and to stay silent so that they can give Lucy the life she deserves.  We can’t blame her for her argument and feel great empathy for her when her choice comes back to haunt her in the most dreadful way.

A couple of years pass and one day Tom, Izzy and Lucy are together on the mainland visiting Izzy’s parents who are ecstatic about their new granddaughter, when they hear about a haunted woman named Hannah Roennfeldt whose husband and baby daughter were lost at sea and who couldn’t be anyone other than Lucy’s biological mother.  Tom realizes that he’s met Hannah before and his guilt over keeping their secret becomes so unbearable for him that he makes a decision that almost destroys his life. However, all the lines between right and wrong are blurred as we find justification for both Izzy and Tom’s sins while at the same time feeling great compassion for Hannah.

This is a wholly satisfying read in every sense.  The protagonists’ character development is flawless and secondary characters are decisive, if not fully realized.  The Light Between Oceans is intellectually, psychologically and emotionally captivating and asks some very tough questions. How can we live with ourselves if we keep shocking secrets?  How do we rationalize our choices in an unfair world?  How can you make a decision in which everyone loses?  Is the best mother always the biological one?

Equally quixotic and tragic, M.L. Stedman has succeeded in delivering a masterpiece of a debut novel with The Light Between Oceans. I can’t thank Simon & Schuster Canada enough for sending me a copy of this book to review! It’s a must read and I greatly anticipate reading Stedman’s future work.

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.

Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen

Book Review
Title: Whistling in the Dark
Author:  Lesley Kagen
Publisher: New American Library
Released: January 1, 2012
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0451221230
ISBN-13: 978-0451221230
Stars:  4.0

It’s the summer of 1959 and ten-year-old Sally O’Malley and her sister Troo are on summer vacation.  Their daddy recently died in a car crash and their mother quickly remarried a nasty piece of work named Hall, a shoe salesman who prefers the bottle to being a husband or surrogate father.

With the bad luck Mother was having with her husbands, Troo and me figured that one of the reasons she had married Hall so fast after Daddy died was because he didn’t look like he’d decease anytime soon, with his muscles and wavy Swedish hair and that tattoo on the top part of his arm that said MOTHER.  Nell said that tattoo must have impressed the hell right out of Helen.  And maybe it had right after Daddy died.  But now Mother was stuck with Hall because if you were a Catholic you couldn’t get a divorce unless you wanted to go straight to hell and burn for all eternity.  If you were a Catholic, Granny said, the only thing you could do if you didn’t want to be married anymore was to pray really hard for a certain shoe-selling louse to get run over by a bus on his way to work.

When their mother Helen falls ill with a mysterious staph infection and ends up in hospital for a prolonged stay, the O’Malley sisters are left in the not so secure care of Hall and their older half-sister Nell, who is so busy with her boyfriend Eddie that she can’t seem to get any food on the table for her little sisters, except for maybe some tuna noodle casserole, but she burns it when she does.  So Sally and Troo are on the loose in their neighbourhood where they know exactly whose house to show up at during dinner time and where they’re busy preparing themselves for the annual 4th of July celebrations.  However, what’s truly disturbing them is that there’s a murderer and molester of little girls at large on Vliet Street during this summer, the summer when everyone started locking their doors.

Junie Piaskowski and Sara Heinemann have been found dead, almost a year apart, with their small bodies molested and strangled, and Sally is convinced that she’s next.  She’s particularly suspicious of Officer Dave Rasmussen, who all the adults around her insist is a good egg, but she’s sure that he’s the killer.  When Sally eventually finds out the truth about Rasmussen, it changes her life forever.

Sally made a promise to her daddy before he died and swore that she would look after her sister Troo, whose real name is Margaret and nicknamed Trooper because she always behaves like one.  Sally admires her sister because she’s fearless, funny, popular, and everything that Sally thinks that she isn’t.  In fact she’s a Troo genius.  Sally is the moral compass in this tale in which most of her elders, except for her black Southern Baptist best friend Ethel Jenkins, who lives with Mrs. Galecki, don’t pay attention to what their children have to say.

The secondary characters of Ethel Jenkins, Mrs. Galecki’s son Mr. Gary who visits from California, Rasmussen, the skinniest kid in the world: peeping Mary Lane, Fast Suzie Fazio, “Mongoloid” Wendy Latour and her evil brother Reese, Greasy Al Molinari, Sally’s landlady Mrs. Goldman, Henry Fitzpatrick and Sampson the gorilla at the local zoo, are wonderfully depicted but there are a whole cast of characters here who would feel as equally at a home in a John Waters movie as they would in To Kill A Mockingbird.

Whistling in the Dark was Lesley Kagen’s debut novel (hardcover published in 2007) and it was recommended to me by a friend of my mom’s.  It took a while for me to get around to reading it but I’m really glad that I did because it’s a gem of a story with a narrative led by ten-year-old Sally in a language that’s as rich, humorous and imaginative as young Sally’s overactive imagination.  Encompassing the themes of loss, both of people we love and the loss of our innocence in childhood, as well as fear – fear of our feelings, fear of what people think, and fear of the unknown – Whistling in the Dark is an immensely entertaining, clever and tender tale of relationships, mystery and discovery that will take you back to your own childhood, no matter what decade you grew up in.