Alter Egos, Made in Jersey

The characters of Mendham author Ron Felber's books are gritty, colorful, and totally Jersey.

Not Guilty: Author Ron Felber shares much with his characters, although he notes, "I've never killed anyone."
Photo by Fiona Aboud

Like his fictional creation, Jack Madson, the author Ron Felber lives by a code. “Discipline has a lot to do with it,” says Felber. The second installment in his Madson thriller series, The Kafka Society, was issued in May by Barricade Books.

The writer and his fast-living alter ego share a history as former boxers and white-collar types. Madson’s made-up past includes a Wall Street career; Felber is the CEO of Chemetell, a New Providence chemical treatment company.

Still, there are differences.

“I’ve never killed anyone,” says the author, 51. “And I’ve never faked my death and deserted my family.”

Felber, who lives in Mendham, was raised in Newark and credits his education at St. Benedicts’s Prep for sharpening his focus on the moral failings that help define the characters in his books. One of his works, 2004’s Il Dottore: The Double Life of a Mafia Doctor (Barricade), the true story of a doctor who treated New York and New Jersey crime families, became the basis for The Mob Doctor, a short-lived Fox TV series.

Now Felber is pursuing a film or TV treatment for the Madson series, which kicked off last year with the critically praised A Man of Indeterminate Value (Barricade).

“There’s a lot of interest,” he says. Both books, says the author, have an edginess and a depth informed by his Jersey youth. “When I was growing up the Mafia was as present as the Catholic church,” Felber says. “That era’s gone, but it left a flavor. We’re a state with a lot of color, a band of real characters.”

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