Monday, March 7, 2011

Anyone Can Die by James LePore

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):   
James LePore’s first novel, A World I Never Made earned raves from reviewers, readers, and fellow authors alike. Blogcritics called it, “An outstanding first novel, and a wonderful thriller.” Bella Online said, “I highly recommend this compelling suspense story filled with vivid characters and haunting storylines. A story that will stay with the reader long after the final pages.” And M.J. Rose, the acclaimed author of The Memorist said A World I Never Made was, “A compelling page-turner &mdash one of those wonderful books with characters as strong as the story and a story worth reading. Don’t miss it.”
Now LePore returns to the characters of A World I Never Made to present us with three suspenseful and unforgettable stories:
Till Death Do Us Part: A young Pat Nolan and his wife are on their honeymoon in New Mexico when they find a bond they did not know they had as they are forced to confront trouble in the form of a surly trio of locals.
God’s Warriors: Megan Nolan, a cynical American woman on her own in Europe makes a life-changing decision that both reveals and belies her true character.
Max: Max French, a quirky, deadly and, in his own eyes, oddly lovable FBI agent faces a personal drama that will set the course of his future.

And here's what I thought:
   So, this is a bit different, mostly because it's 3 small stories in a slim book -- and I haven't read this author's first novel (although I'm trying to interlibrary loan it right now).   I wasn't sure if it would matter too much that I hadn't read the first book, so I just treated these 3 stories as stand-alone stories.     The funny thing is, once I finished the third one, I realized they were all connected, and things started to make more sense (especially because I had been wondering at the second occurrence of a strawberry blonde in the second story -- which then made sense).  The writing in all three stories is very straightforward; descriptive, but to the point, and completely suiting the tone of the stories.   At times almost terse, LePore's writing paints a very clear portrait of each of the three main characters.  Did I like all of them?  No, not really.  However, to me, that just means it's good writing; if the writing isn't good enough to give me a good impression of a character, I don't have much of a reaction to them.  And in a short story, this is essential.  Well done, Mr. LePore!   

The one thing I took exception to was once in a while, there would be a sentence written in a way that took a detour from the usual tone.  For example, in the second story, when it is stated that Megan grew up as a pretty girl (p. 30): "Megan, beginning around the age of sixteen, was acutely aware of the envy and jealousy she aroused in other females.  Their eyes were paintbrushes dipped in fear and hate."   Um..... what was that second sentence?  I don't know - just kind of tripped me up, and broke the nice flow that was going.

The author states in his introduction to this book that these there stories were to give more background on certain characters.  He states, "This is my chance, I said to myself, my chance to both honor my characters and respect my readers."   I believe that is true; after reading these short stories, I definitely have insight into three distinct characters.  I'm looking forward to reading A World I Never Made because I'm curious now about these people.  

First sentence (from the second story):  "Megan Nolan emerged from the bowels of the Abbesses Metro station into a cold and raw late afternoon in January of 2001."
Thoughts on the cover:  Almost looks like the shadow of an outstretched figure, set across lines -- could be wire - and an ice-like background.  Actually, not wild about the cover, but I'm not sure what would be a good cover for these kinds of stories. 

Please stay tuned --- I am hoping to provide a guest post from this author tomorrow!!!


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