The Prisoner presented at Roland Richardson Gallery – High body count in Arre’s entertaining new novel

POSTED: 04/22/13 12:23 PM

Arre - The prisoner

Author Ed Arre. Photo Today / Hilbert Haar

MARIGOT, St. Martin – St. Gregory is author Ed Arre’s fictional version of St. Maarten – a place where the Chief Prosecutor is corrupt and has political ambitions, and where murder is punished with the death penalty by hanging. It takes a leap of faith to put up with these literary liberties, but readers that manage to suspend their belief system will find Arre’s latest novel the prisoner an entertaining read –and they’ll probably finish the book in one session.

On Friday evening the author held a signing session at the gallery of painter Sir Roland Richardson on the Rue de la République in Marigot. In seemed a fitting environment, given the fact that Arre’s next novel Meat Market will come with a cover based on a portrait painted by Richardson. Meat Market is a story about the trade in body parts; it will appear towards the end of this year.
Counting an earlier version of The Prisoner, Arre has now produced his fifth book since he started writing fiction fulltime eight years ago. A former journalist and marketing consultant, the New Jersey native and his wife Judith have ample experience with the island of St. Maarten. “We came here for the first time 25 years ago on our honeymoon,” he said. “In 2007 we decided to move over here for most of the year.”
The rest of the year the couple spends in London where their daughter lives.
The decision to turn himself into a fulltime writer after retirement has become Arre – real name Ed Regenye. He published an earlier version of The Prisoner in 2006; the revised edition that is now on sale adds some spice derived from recent international developments.
“Writing involves discipline,” Arre told this newspaper on Friday evening, surrounded by the paintings of Sir Roland Richardson and in the presence of the iconic painter and his wife Laura. “You have to find a routine you are comfortable with. I get up early and start writing for a couple of hours. Then I have breakfast and afterwards I continue, until I have about 2000 words.”

Arre published Terror in 2009, the only book so far that does not have his fictional St. Maarten as a backdrop. Deadline (2010) and Rapacious (2011) both do.
The story in The Prisoner is without any doubt a page turner, though the body count becomes in the end so high that the blood is practically dripping from the pages. Most of the characters in the story do not live to see the end of the book, including the Arre’s two main players – Peter Carew and journalist Dana Sandow.
By making these choices, the author foregoes the traditional framework of storytelling whereby the hero goes through a transformation to reach his or her true and full potential.

The Prisoner could have done with a lower body count and a more realistic presentation of St. Gregory as the fictional model for St. Maarten. We don’t have the death penalty, prosecutors are not elected and they certainly don’t have ambitions to become the next governor. That position is not up for grabs in an election – something to be grateful for – but it is an appointment by the crown. This does not take away from Arre’s performance as a gifted storyteller. Readers will be anticipating the publication of his next work – Meat Market.

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