A World I Never Made
James LePore
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Buy *A World I Never Made* by James LePore online

A World I Never Made
James LePore
Story Plant
262 pages
April 2009
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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You’re not supposed to outlive your own child.

That’s what Pat Nolan surely thought, and yet he held his only child Meagan’s suicide note in his hands as he stumbled toward the viewing room where he would identify her remains.

“Is this your daughter?” the Parisian police lieutenant asked him softly as she lifted the white sheet.

“Yes,” he lied.

It was that lie that placed his life and the life of Catherine Laurence – that same policewoman – in mortal jeopardy; that lie that would lead the two on a trek halfway across a continent. That lie might well be the single means by which he would ever glimpse his daughter again. Such a journey, Pat Nolan instinctively understood, would certainly cover far more than mere miles racked up on a rental car odometer: it would require a journey of the heart as well. And yet he gladly took that first step. You are not supposed to outlive your child…
If the first sentence of a book sets the tone, then James LePore’s debut novel surely starts his career off with a bang. The first two paragraphs are the text of a suicide note left for her father by Nolan’s willful, long-estranged daughter. Readers won’t be disappointed, either, with the continuation of the action. Though A World I Never Made observes any number of the conventions of its genre and its generation, LePore manages well to keep his novel from becoming stale with a skill that belies his inexperience.

A World I Never Made is a tale told in two voices. As the action swirling about Nolan père in the here and now alternates with his daughter’s more leisurely yet no less dangerous trip to Morocco seven months ago. It’s that Moroccan journey and the man she met there which set the stage for her father’s arrival in Paris, where the gendarmes hand him that puzzling note.

Per convention, the twin plot threads converge in the thriller’s climax. However, Nolan’s journey from a Paris morgue to a remote Czech hunting lodge follows a long and twisty road, past gypsy fortunetellers and a strange little French flower girl. For the most part, LePore’s TripTik® takes his readers on an enjoyable ride. Pat Nolan, “man of action,” remains interesting throughout, even when he becomes a pastiche of a hundred distant father characters in literature. His daughter’s part of the story is less a novel of action that a novel of growth, for it becomes a study of how one act can change a life – a coming of age that requires but one moment.

Somewhere back there, I did say “for the most part.” LePore does not always dodge the pitfalls of first-time authorship, especially as he inserts an all-too-predictable and somewhat clumsy romantic angle, follows the urge to make occasional moral pronouncements, and yields to a desire to stereotype his villains. These are, however, relatively minor faults. All in all, James LePore acquits himself well for a first-time author.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Rex Allen, 2009

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