A World I Never Made

~by James LePore

While I was in the process of reading and reviewing Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed by Marc Blatte, I was also offered an advance reading copy of another upcoming debut mystery novel--A World I Never Made by James LePore. Due to be released in April 2009, A World I Never Made promised to be an exciting novel of suspense and political intrigue and it mostly delivers on that promise. The book features locales such as Paris, Morocco, and the Czech Republic and a wide range of primary and secondary characters. Intrigued, I happily accepted a copy to review.

When Megan Nolan, an American freelance journalist, is found dead in a Parisian hotel, her semi-estranged father is brought over form the United States to identify the body. He is given the suicide note she left for him to read, but something just doesn't seem right to Patrick. In addition to her strange request asking for an immediate cremation, he also learns for the first time that his daughter was dying of ovarian cancer. But nothing could have prepared him for the next surprise--the body that he was brought to identify is not Megan's. She has faked her own suicide. Knowing his daughter must be in grave danger to go to such lengths, he hopes to find her with the help of French detective Catherine Laurence before it's too late.

I must admit, I was periodically baffled by the characters; I didn't always follow their logic or completely understand some of their actions and decisions. Despite the plot being a bit unbelievable at times, and on occasion a bit predictable, LePore still manages to create a story suspenseful enough to keep a reader's attention and the pages turning. Even though there was potential for the book to feel dated with the use of the events of September 11, 2001 as a major touchstone and the emphasis of terrorism as an element in the plot, this is avoided and it still feels relevant. While stereotypes aren't strictly used, some of the portrayal of the characters and various groups of people come awfully close at times.

Overall, A World I Never Made is a fairly engaging read and a good debut. There were a few minor continuity problems, but as I was reading an advanced copy of the novel, this may be addressed in the final published version. The most frustrating thing for me, besides the continuity issues, was not always understanding the characters. But even so, I was very interested to see how LePore would pull together his two story lines--the search for Megan and Megan's own story. Ultimately, he was very successful in doing so, leaving very few if any loose ends. For those who enjoy LePore's first foray into modern mystery and suspense, he is already working on his next book, scheduled to be released in the spring of 2010.

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