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Fiction Dystopian

Mason’s Jar

A Novel

by (author) John Jantunen

ECW Press
Initial publish date
Jun 2023
Dystopian, General, Small Town & Rural
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2023
    List Price

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An electrifying mash-up of the western, sci-fi, and horror genres set against a backdrop of the housing, mental health, opioid, and climate crises

Ex–police chief Mason Lowry is hell-bent on retribution. Ten years ago he arrested outlaw biker Clarence Boothe for selling a bad batch of illicit narcotics that killed 37 people. Boothe’s gang retaliated by killing Lowry’s teenage granddaughter, and ever since Mason has been biding his time, waiting for the moment when he can exact his revenge. But unbeknownst to him, Clarence has been laying plans of his own.

In this-all-too-near future, addiction to the drug Euphoral has become epidemic. Withdrawal causes a violent psychosis, and on the night of their leader’s release, Clarence’s gang unleashes a waking nightmare by withholding its supply. Seeing the city he once swore to serve and protect descending into madness fuels Mason’s fury and he launches a one-man assault on Clarence’s compound. During the midnight raid, he’s saved from certain death by Meghan, a teenage captive with a violent past of her own who may just hold the key to something Mason had thought he’d lost forever: a chance at redemption.

About the author

Contributor Notes

John Jantunen has lived in almost every region of Canada and currently resides in Kingston, Ontario. His first novel, Cipher, was shortlisted for a 2014 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in the Mystery category and No Quarter was nominated for a 2019 Shamus Award.

Excerpt: Mason’s Jar: A Novel (by (author) John Jantunen)

Goddamned fucking drones!

Mason had activated the audio enhancement function on his helmet and had first heard it ten seconds ago — a whirring buzz growing louder like a deerfly zeroing in on his head. He’d set the helmet’s visual acuity spectrum to both night vision and thermal and the drone now hovering just below the treetops directly in front of him appeared as a floating black hexagon surrounded by a dim yellow aura.

Cursing his hubris — Well, what did you think? Clarence’d just you let walk right in and shoot him in the head? — he turned his attention back to the house’s porch. He suspected that Clarence was sitting on the rocking chair beside the front door, though he hadn’t caught so much as a glimpse of him owing to the man standing in front of the chair with his back to Mason. He was as big as the ass end of an elephant and was wearing the same black leather cut with The Sons Of Adam’s insignia as everyone else in view. His hands and prodigious arms were gesticulating wildly as if he was telling a story of some great import to whoever it was lounging in the rocking chair — must have been about an all-you-can-eat buffet, the way the man was carrying on. His outline was fuzzed by the thermal aura of orange surrounding him, as were the figures of the nine other men milling about the front yard. All of those were drinking heartily from plastic cups and stomping their feet in harmony along with the duelling fiddlers weaving amongst them, the accompanying whoops of mirth and laughter enticing their bows to ever greater speeds.

Mason had just hunkered down behind a toppled birch tree so he could get a look-see at who, or what, stood between him and Clarence. As a precautionary measure, he’d set aside the C8 so he could retrieve the sonic disruptor from his belt. Its primary selling point was that it emitted a highly compressed sound wave that caused immediate disorientation, and sometimes blackouts, at a distance of fifteen metres, but Mason had brought it along mainly with its canine setting in mind. The ad copy had promised it would effectively deter any dog within a fifty-metre radius. While he couldn’t see any within view, he wasn’t taking any chances, not after what had happened with the Doberman Brimsby had shot.

If he did manage to snipe Clarence, as was his intent, he’d given himself even odds that he’d be able to make it back to his truck a few steps ahead of the posse that, no doubt, would be hot on his heels, but he’d never be able to outrun a Doberman. So he’d retrieved the sonic disruptor and was just setting it to canine deterrence when he heard the drone closing in.

Editorial Reviews

“A grimy, dripping fever dream freshly splattered across the cracked windshield of Ontario’s sputtering future.” — Andrew F. Sullivan, author of The Marigold and The Handyman Method

“I’ve been in awe of writer John Jantunen’s immense talent for some time now. With Mason’s Jar, he has joined the ranks of Cormac McCarthy and Michael Punke. It’s a work created by a towering talent of uncommon vision. He’s reached a place of rarity — a place occupied by genius. What really struck me was that it was an intelligent book written by an intelligent writer for intelligent readers. He played the notes that weren't there, as Miles Davis said.” — Les Edgerton, author of Hard Times, Adrenaline Junkie and others

“Hope is an underlying theme throughout the novel, and change, after all “the line between being rich and poor in this country is very, very fragile. It’s very precarious.” And anyone can end up on the other side of that line, and when the balance tips, all manner of nightmares can materialize, as Jantunen aptly illustrates in Mason’s Jar.” — Bay Today

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