Books by Paul Mann

THE BURNING GHATS by Paul Mann
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

Bombay lawyer George Sansi's third case (The Ganja Coast, 1995, etc.) pits him against the unstoppably wealthy and unspeakably corrupt industrialist behind a monstrous chemical disaster. Compared to the Union Carbide accident at Bhopal, the disaster caused by phosphorus spilled into the Ganges at Varanasi is no big deal—a mere 1,100 dead and 4,000 wounded. But to Sansi's old friend Rupe Seshan, newly appointed minister for environment, it's exactly the routine nature of the tragedy that's most insidious. Determined to expose the culprits before their criminal carelessness becomes a model for corporate greed, she appoints incorruptible Supreme Court Judge Kusheed Pilot to head a commission and, with the help of circumspect hints about deporting Sansi's lover, Times of India reporter Annie Ginnaro, bullies him into heading the investigation. It's no secret who's behind the spill—wily Madhuri Amlani, founder and CEO of Renown Oil and dozens of other indefensible, untouchable industries. But Amlani, who's had six months to get braced for the investigation, has armored himself with an army of cat's paws, cutouts, forged documents, bribes, and perjuries so audacious that Sansi hasn't a hope of getting at him. His latest stunt: getting indiscreet photos of Rupe and Sansi—who've now finally consummated their childhood infatuation—which are bound to compromise Sansi and chase the investigation off the front pages, and Annie from her job at the Times when she's asked to write up the story. Running rings around his stifled children, the gangster former boyfriend of his son Joshi's starlet inamorata (a sadly abortive subplot, this one), and the naive American sharpies planning to capitalize Renown Oil out from under him, Amlani steamrolls Sansi, Rupe, and Judge Pilot, clearly unconquerable by anyone with the minutest scruples. Will stolid Sansi put aside his legal training to reel him in? In the end, Sansi stays technically virtuous as ever, but casting him as the unmoved eye of this teeming, miasmal Indian storm makes his latest adventure his richest yet. Read full book review >
THE GANJA COAST by Paul Mann
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 1, 1995

More Indian intrigue—drugs, politics, and an illicit land grab—for Bombay lawyer George Sansi (Season of the Monsoon, 1993). Sansi's shrewd former boss, crime commissioner Narendra Jamal, wants him to travel to Goa, a coastal town fabled as a haven for aging hippies, to gather evidence that Rajiv Banerjee, the crooked new minister for economic development, is moving drugs and spearheading an attempt to buy up every available parcel of land before the new free port at Goa is announced. Only prompt action, Jamal warns darkly, can discredit Banerjee before his allies honeycomb the government. The stage seems set for an Indian remake of The Untouchables, with blue-eyed, Oxford- educated Sansi in the Kevin Costner role, hunkering down to consult with Jamal's thoroughly intimidated local contacts and spying on the warehouses of Prem Gupta, Banerjee's main man in Goa. Until: (1) Sansi's American lover, Times of India reporter Annie Ginnaro, not content to decorate his hotel room, meets and likes Cora Betts, whose charismatic husband, Drew, is clearly prince of the Goa drug trade (shades of Tequila Sunrise); and (2) Cora's imperious, long-abandoned mother, Joy Gilman, turns up with her husband and the rest of her entourage, determined to rescue her grandchildren from the wicked, wicked ways of her son- in-law. These developments split up Sansi and Ginnaro, who's determined to protect the Betts kids from their gale-force grandmother, even though Sansi is convinced that the apparent drowning of 9-year-old Sara Betts's best friend is really the work of a killer who could strike anywhere. Cleverly plotted—the drug scam at the heart of the mystery is both ingenious and chilling—and as overripe as its setting and genre demand. Read full book review >
THE BRITANNIA CONTRACT by Paul Mann
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 15, 1993

Mann's bid at a Clancy-sized thriller has an elegantly simple premise. Half a dozen IRA terrorists, aided by a couple of Palestinian free-lancers, seize Her Majesty's yacht Britannia as it lies off a Saudi port and hold it and its royal passengers for a fabulous ransom: the withdrawal of all British troops from Northern Ireland within one week. The kidnapping of the British Establishment is nothing new, having already been presented by writers as different as John Gardner and Peter Dickinson. And Mann's hushed reverence for HRH, ``the world's most enduring symbol of grace,'' doesn't give his victims much life. But they don't need much life when they're surrounded by fanatical IRA stalwarts like Dominic Behan, his looting, raping underlings, and his even more sinister mercenary boss, Edward Doyle, a former British marine whose grudge against the Crown is personal rather than political. After the initial violence of its seizure, the Britannia becomes the motionless eye of a political firestorm, as the Prime Minister realizes that a British withdrawal will be followed by vigilante pro-British rioting (Mann is especially convincing at showing the consequences of terrorism in London, in Belfast, even in Boston) and that Doyle plans to sink the Britannia whether or not his demands are met. Obviously a rescue mission is in order; and, fortunately, private radio contact with the royal hostages and their bodyguards will allow the counterterrorist command to coordinate preparations for rescue with a flashy operation in which Special Boat Squadron veteran Colin Lynch (The Traitor's Contract, 1991) will play a decisive role. The sharply realized action sequences make Mann's incredible premise compelling from the starting gun, and his grasp of its geopolitical implications is unnervingly persuasive. Grand summer reading—an outsized, perfectly realized thriller that doesn't carry any of Clancy's extra weight. (First printing of 50,000) Read full book review >
SEASON OF THE MONSOON by Paul Mann
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 1, 1993

Murder in Bombay—in an enjoyable if strained entry in the serial-killer/travelogue subgenre pioneered by Martin Smith in Gorky Park and highlighted by William Bayer's Jerusalem-set Pattern Crimes and Joseph Koenig's Tehran-based Brides of Blood. ``Anything—absolutely anything—can happen in India,'' says hero-cop George Sansi, and as presented by Mann (The Traitor's Contract, 1990), anything—and nearly everything—does, beginning with the discovery at Film City, India's Hollywood, of a horribly savaged body. Sansi—an appealingly saturnine character who's perhaps the only blue-eyed Indian walking the subcontinent (courtesy of the British general who sired him)—pursues the case with his usual moral diligence, stepping on powerful toes as he links the body to a gay prostitution ring serving film bigwigs. The Special Branch inspector is pulled into a second case as well, trying to stop a war between rival Bombay gangsters, a subplot that points up the novel's major strength and weakness: Mann's crackling depiction of India as a madhouse where the only real law is that of survival (most forcefully displayed during Sansi's visit to Dharavai, Bombay's fetid slum-suburb); and the author's forced striving for eccentrically interesting incidents and characters (as seen in the gangster Paul Kapoor, who talks in 50's slang and worships Elvis). Sansi can't stop Kapoor from slaying his rival, but, after a second mutilated body surfaces, the cop does trace the killings back to a 50-year-old murder spree—and to that long-ago killer's grandson, living in London, where the novel attenuates into a dull tracking of the culprit by Sansi, followed by a Bombay- set finale that seems stapled on. Fast-moving and fascinating for its exotic lore, but you can hear Mann's mechanics clanking away. Still, the engagingly earnest Sansi and his amazing India deserve a sequel. Read full book review >
THE TRAITOR'S CONTRACT by Paul Mann
Released: Feb. 7, 1990

A cheerful shoot-'em-up showing just how far a rogue branch of the Provos will go to liberate Belfast and Derry and reunite Ireland. Aging IRA firebrand Tom O'Donnell has a vision: a deal with Iranian arms merchant Abu Musa for enough weapons to honeycomb the North and force the Brits to agree to a UN peacekeeping mission. In return, O'Donnell's strongman extraordinaire Brian Hennessy will go to the US to eliminate antiterrorist super-imperialist Jack Halloran and his well-armed cronies. But from the very beginning, when Hennessy's helicopter attack on Halloran's Manhattan skyscraper misses its target (though killing 174 lesser souls), Halloran shows as much muscle—mostly in the form of old Royal Navy crony Colin Lynch—as Hennessy; when Hennessy snatches Janice Street, Halloran's former (and Lynch's present) lover, and spirits her off to Donegal, Halloran just reassures his buddy the President that he'll lay off covert operations and then goes after her with missiles blazing. Like everybody else in this hard-cover debut, Hennessy is protected by layers and layers of booby traps, trip-wired grenades, and bulletproof armor, but since they've all been shattered, wasted, and vaporized, dead before their Uzis hit the ground (a canine victim, killed after a finger-lickin'-good snack, is said to be in heaven with Col. Sanders), what chance can he have? Rousing, mindless fun. Read full book review >