Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose fills the bill

You know sometimes I like to read a story that takes me on a journey and I want to see, taste, feel and smell the story. I always pick up Joanne Harris, author of “Chocolat” and “Five Quarters of the Orange” when I want to get a sensual language fix. Then there are times when I want to be on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next and I just found a new author who fills this bill nicely, indeed. M.J. Rose has put together a tightly crafted thriller that satisfies and surprises.
This is a story of love, betrayal, murder and redemption and it is all neatly woven together in a story that puts the question of reincarnation to the test and if man has control over his fate. The main character Josh Ryder is a photojournalist and while working in Rome survives a terrorist bomb blast that leaves him suffering migraines and strange hallucinations. The scents of jasmine and sandalwood comes to mind and he finds himself transported back to ancient Rome and a tragedy he doesn’t quite understand. He feels haunted by the death of a woman he believes he loved in another life and the flashbacks are taking over his life. He is overwhelmed with a need to find his past love and save her. He seeks help from the Phoenix Foundation-an organization that scientifically documents past life experiences. Normally they only deal with children but Josh’s case is compelling enough to be taken in. His therapy and connection with the foundation leads him to an archeological dig back in Italy. Inside the tomb of the last Vestal Virgins Josh experiences the most powerful of flashbacks. He knows the skeleton of the young woman is Sabina. He knows he loved her and she wasn’t meant to die here. Before he can put together any of his so-called memories to good purpose he becomes a helpless witness to a murder and theft. So starts a suspense story with just enough twists and turns that kept me turning the page and being surprised until the last page.
There are some suspense authors that thrown everything into the mix. There are so many red herrings and switchbacks in the story that it becomes unbelievable. Not so with M. J. Rose. She has shaped a tense and sharp story. She spends her time with the plot and doesn’t spread it around with extraneous descriptions or long winded back story. I like the fact that the back story of Rome and the rise of Catholicism is integral to the current story of murder and theft. I like even better that it isn’t until I got to the very last page before I really knew how it was going to end.
M. J. Rose is as interesting as her writing. Her first novel, “Lip Service”, was self published in 1998 after traditional publishers turned it down. She advertised all over the internet to download the book for $9.95. She sold 2500 copies when she came to the attention of the Literary Guild/Double Day Book Club and was the first self published novel to be offered by them. She has been a guest on The Today Show and the Jim Lehrer Report.
Her next book ,“The Memorist”, visits past lives and reincarnation again and I will be certainly visiting her books at the bookstore and library.

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