Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A World I Never Made by James LePore — 262 pgs

Book CoverPat Nolan has just arrived in France after hearing the worst possible news: his estranged 29 year old daughter Megan has been found dead in her hotel room, and her death is being ruled a suicide. In shock, Pat accompanies the lead investigator to the morgue, where he will have to identify the body and make the necessary arrangements. As he is waiting to view the body, Pat is lost in remembrances of the troubled relationship between himself and his daughter. Megan was a headstrong and beautiful journalist who divided her time between reporting from around the globe and having dalliances with some of the world's richest men. But when Pat finally looks under that white sheet in the morgue, he discovers that something is very wrong. It turns out that the body lying beneath is not Megan at all, but bears a striking resemblance to her. In a split second decision, he identifies this unknown woman as Megan to the authorities and vows to find out what really happened to his daughter. Following a set of clues Megan secretly left behind, Pat begins the search for his daughter. With the help of Catherine Laurence, a French detective who has gone off the grid, Pat discovers that Megan faked her own death in order to elude a dangerous group of men tied to international terrorism. Pat and Detective Laurence must race against the clock and the other operatives to find Megan alive, and in enough time to reveal the identity of a powerful and sinister man who is bent on changing the world with his subversive crimes.

I'm not normally a reader of suspense novels, but from the beginning, this book had a very forceful and authentic style that made me push thorough the pages in an effort to get to the bottom of the story. Told in a shifting style of narrative, the book moves between Pat's dilemma and the complete back story told from Megan's point of view. I thought the author melded the two components of the story together in a way that fleshed out the whole picture very effectively. There was no awkwardness in the transition between the two sections, and I was quickly entangled in the labyrinth of the plot . The action and pacing of this story were very tight, and I found that both parts of the story were equally engaging and thorough. The middle section of the story included a bit of a romantic subplot, which I felt was a little stiff and formulaic, but despite this small gripe, I thought that the plot was extremely plausible and excellently crafted.

Another thing that really impressed me was the character creation and interaction. Each character had a distinct personality without being a stock character, and the way they played off of each other was very interesting to see. I particularly liked Megan's character. She was a no-nonsense woman who was strong and independent without being overly aggressive. I thought that she had some very sharp character qualities that enabled her to be very feminine while still being unyielding and intense. This served to incorporate a definite heroicness to her character without diminishing her mystique and appeal.

I also liked Catherine Laurence. She had an honest and unaffected quality about her, and didn't compromise her stronger emotions for the sake of propriety. I liked that she was resolute towards her feelings, and without being dispassionate, she was able to successfully compartmentalize her feelings towards her past and the tenacity that her future brought forward. I also liked that she went rouge in order to help Pat and his daughter when she realized the full scope of the problem at hand. Her involvement in the case gave the plot a real push and furthered the story along some very interesting avenues.

This book was a bit uncommon in the fact that it contained literary writing with a suspense storyline. The writing and exposition were more developed and nuanced than what you would regularly find in the average book of this genre, but the action and suspense elements of the story were not compromised in order to maintain that effect. I felt that I had finally found a niche where the writing was not sacrificed for furtherance of the plot, or to make it more palatable for the non-literary suspense readers.

This was an engaging read with clear and stylized writing, a great action-filled plot and some really entertaining characters. If you are on the fence about suspense novels, I urge you to give this book a try. I also think that this book would be a good fit for those who like novels that contain an element of drama. Both interesting and entertaining, this book was a great escapist read. Recommended.

7 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I really enjoyed this novel when I read it earlier this year. I'm glad it's getting a blog tour - I think it's one more people should know about!

Steph said...

This sounds soooo good and exactly the kind of book I can't walk away from. Reading the brief synopsis, it reminded me a bit of Tana French's "The Likeness", which I read and adored earlier this year. I'm definitely going to check this one out!

Thanks for the review!

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I haven't heard of this one, but I love suspense books. Thanks for the review and I'm adding to my (every growing) list.

Dar said...

I saw this novel somewhere and thought it sounded really good. Great review and it just confirmed that it would be a good read.

Nymeth said...

Literary suspense! I like the sound of that.

Lenore said...

I love literary thrillers and this one has a doozy of a premise. (Sounds a bit like Atticus by Ron Hansen, actually).

Added to wishlist!

Diane said...

This one sounds good. Your reviews are always so thorough that I want to read just about everything you review. LOL

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