Review: A World I Never Made, by James LePore

by Rebeca on June 22, 2009

A World I Never MadeA World I Never Made
By James LePore
The Story Plant
272 pages
$24.95

In A World I Never Made, the debut novel by James LePore, readers will read about lost and newfound love, betrayal among colleagues and lovers, terror, and thrilling fast-paced action and edge-of-your-seat suspense.

The story opens with Pat Nolan in a Parisian police station, reading his daughter Megan’s suicide note. He has come from the United Stated to identify and claim her body.  However, the corpse at the morgue—that of a young woman with advanced ovarian cancer—is not his daughter.

Nolan recognizes immediately that Megan has set up this faux suicide because she is in danger, and it is up to him to find and help her. His task is complicated when he is attacked by two Middle-Eastern men, but lucky for Nolan he is saved by Catherine Laurence, a French detective who has been assigned to trail him.

Laurence and her superiors discover that the body in the morgue is not Megan’s and that she is suspected of working with a group of terrorists who bombed several locations in Casablanca. The hope is that Nolan will lead them to Megan and the terrorists and prevent a potential 9/11 scenario in France. However, it’s not all that simple when Catherine realizes that something is awry and goes on leave to help Nolan find Megan.

The story is juxtaposed with Megan’s own story that takes place almost a year earlier and how she disappeared via her fake suicide. A college drop-out, who decided to acquire her education by living in Europe and in the beds of wealthy men, Megan Nolan is a journalist who primarily writes for women magazines, but a sudden intellectual interest in terrorism develops, and she travels to Morocco to do some research. There she meets Abdel Lahani, a Saudi businessman, and becomes his mistress. A few months later and pregnant with Lahani’s child, she discovers that her lover is more than a businessman, but a terrorist with grand plans to attack European countries.

Meanwhile, Nolan’s and Catherine’s quest to find his daughter has them following Megan’s leads, which ultimately leads them to a group of Roma– an intriguing element that convincingly moves the story forward–in Paris and later to the Czech Republic. However, these are the same leads that the terrorists follow with the hope of finding Megan and killing her.

LePore keeps the fast pace of the story by switching back and forth between the search for Megan and with her life in Morocco with Lahani. Readers learn through the back stories in each of the sections of the strained relationship between father and daughter. LePore balances this estrangement by having Nolan and Catherine fall in love, but this love affair surfaces too quickly in the story and slows down the pace.

LePore’s strength lies in his descriptive detail, which mostly likely can be attributed to his skill (according to his bio) as a photographer in which he captures the image he has seen through the viewfinder and composes scenes that show the reader the actions and locales in Paris and Morocco.

However, LePore seems to lose his way when it comes to characterization. Of all the players, Megan is the only one who is fully fleshed out, and it seems the one character that the author has spent the most time developing and analyzing. LePore provides a solid foundation of Megan’s psyche and brings to life a manipulative woman who has contempt for her father and men in general.

Unfortunately, JePore fails to bring any of these strong personality traits to both Catherine and Nolan. Readers never get an adequate explanation of why Catherine hated—a strong emotion in itself–her husband so much. LePore offers a stock explanation, but the reaon isn’t sufficient and doesn’t add much to the story. Like Catherine, Nolan comes across as somewhat insipid. He is meant to be sympathetic–a strong and silent type—a man who experienced the tragedy of losing his wife in childbirth and who is left alone to take care of his daughter, but readers with an interest in the father/daughter dynamics will want to know more of the wedge that drove Megan and Nolan so wide apart.

In spite of  its few flaws, as a fast-moving suspense story with various twists and turns, A World I Never Made succeeds in keeping readers interested until its satisfying and realistic conclusion.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

lisamm June 22, 2009 at 10:19 am

It sounds like an exciting and fast paced read despite it’s flaws. Thanks so much for all the time and energy you put into reading and reviewing this book!

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