DR. MEL'S MESSAGE - From my novels to my other projects, no telling what you will read. This is the only place you will get to read about how I developed a screenplay into a novel and what is the driving force. I will talk about many things from films to books to acting to producing. It really will depend on where my mind takes me. I hope you will join me on this journey.
From the beaches of Malibu to the White House Situation Room and inside the exclusive nightclubs, bistros and chateaux of the Paris elite, brilliant Secret Service Agent Isabella “Izzy” Stone is plunged into a world of cyberterrorism, espionage, romance, and betrayal.
On special assignment to the French government, Izzy urgently travels to Paris. The shocking murder of a mysterious arms trader in the massive Châtelet metro, and a coded message from an old Paris friend set off alarms on two continents. An elusive global terrorist named “Lalo” appears to be plotting deadly cyberattacks on nuclear power plants in the U.S. and France that will turn both countries into radioactive death zones.
But who or what is Lalo? Could he be a fictitious creation? If he is real, who is he working for?
Izzy soon finds herself in a hall of mirrors, uncertain whom to trust as CIA, MI6, Russian and French intelligence agents play out their own agendas in the hunt for Lalo. Two charismatic men are deeply drawn to Izzy, but she must remain focused on the shadowy terrorist.
Izzy’s pursuit of Lalo leads to an astonishing discovery about Lalo’s true identity. Now Izzy is also a target. The chase is on. Time is running out. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Can Izzy stop Lalo before it’s too late?
"A superb protagonist headlines this brisk, riveting espionage tale." -Kirkus Reviews
"[G]ripping story....delightfully complex....she's endlessly intriguing, like her romantic entanglements with both the U.S. president...and an MI6 agent. The indelible denouement leaves a lasting impression." - Kirkus Reviews
"A glamorous and grimy international thriller that creeps into chaos" Madeline Barbush, Independent Book Review*
FULL REVIEW *
"No one can do what Izzy Stone does. And even if they could, they wouldn't be able to do it like her. She's a Secret Service agent, familiar with saving lives and experienced in many fields, including cyberterrorism. She is a lover, a daughter, and a sister. She is glamorous, badass, and gifted. When Izzy is newly appointed to a special assignment which could decide the fate of hundreds of thousands of lives, all of these aspects of her person will be put to the test. I'm weeks behind on my taxes, and meanwhile Izzy Stone juggles multiple lives while also being the chicest woman out there. Joseph Aragon, author of the international thriller Chatelet, is the creator of said beauty spy queen. It delights me to say that with Izzy Stone he manages to produce a 3D character living in a 3D world - a convincingly real woman, with real decisions to face, and a past which influences her greatly. She is neither superhuman nor super sexy, but rather follows her intuition as both a woman and an agent. As insanely crucial as Izzy's decisions are in the novel, Aragon grounds them in a reality which has everything to do with his strong hold on human behavior. He creates a push and pull between Izzy's personal and professional life which makes her a fathomable character rather than a gross exaggeration of what we could reasonably deem a strong leading woman. Chatelet is no doubt the result of copious amounts of research conducted by Aragon, which of course lends to its overall success as a thriller novel. But what makes Chatelet so chilling is how Aragon exhibits an omniscient quality in his writing. He has a clear vision of how we as a society would react and behave in situations of terror similar to the one he creates in his novel: a cyberterrorist hellbent on nuclear mass murder. He knows how to set chaos in motion with the threat of radiation poisoning creeping up slowly and steadily, and then disaster crashing down on the poor characters of Chatelet all at once. Joseph Aragon knows his way around an international thriller. He causes pandemonium through an ingenious weaving of multiple narratives all leading back to the amazing Izzy Stone. With Izzy we are able to indulge in all of the glamor Paris has to offer above ground, and then slink down to the underground where we see her being her strongest and smartest. We even dabble in the dark web and the evildoings of those individuals whom Izzy needs to stop in order to protect the lives they so desire to destroy. Whether Izzy foils their plan or not, Chatelet proves second to none." Madeline Barbush, Independent Book Review
Science and technology have made possible astonishing advances that we all benefit from. Yet, there is a dark side to those achievements as well. One of those is the emergence of cyber capabilities that have the potential of inflicting massive human and physical destruction. In Châtelet, I chose to focus, using the medium of a novel, on the increasing vulnerability of nuclear power plants, once almost impervious to penetration due to robust industrial control systems designed to disrupt evil doers, and the fact that those facilities were "air-gapped," i.e. not connected to the Internet. Yet, due to the growing number of "non-state" hackers, and the availability of sophisticated "exploits," the danger grows that individuals, or groups of individuals, operating on their own, for whatever motives they might have, could inflict unimaginable levels of destruction via the Internet. The world of cyber hacking is secretive and complex. Fortunately, in researching Châtelet I benefitted greatly from reading the extraordinary investigative work of others who have written in startling detail about the subject. "Sandworm," by Andy Greenberg, and, "This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends," by Nicole Perlroth, are two masterful accounts of this arcane world. So, Châtelet, is not a documentary, it is a writer's "what if," thriller that hopes to engage while drawing attention to the threat of "lone wolf," nuclear terrorism. Joseph Aragon
Izzy Stone, a top Secret Service agent, is in charge of a presidential visit to Paris. Without warning, a powerful French magistrate charges the U.S. President with war crimes and crimes against humanity after an American counterterrorist strike goes awry. Now Izzy finds herself in a bloody, desperate race to save POTUS from certain death. A lethal cat and mouse chase unfolds across the City of Lights as Izzy uses her knowledge of Paris' ancient catacombs, a buried chateau fort and the great Louvre to elude their pursuers. As France and the U.S. approach an unthinkable military confrontation and the world's powers move toward DEFCON ONE, only Izzy can prevent a global catastrophe.