Monday, March 02, 2009

A World I Never Made

One of the great divides in spy fiction is between books where the protagonist is a professional spy and where the poor fool is an amateur. My favorite of the professional-based books are Charles McCarry's Paul Christopher novels. Those books are as much an exploration of life as a spy as they are about the plot. For the amateurs caught up in the swirl of intrigue, I prefer Alan Furst's moody World War 2 books.

New author James LePore's soon to be published A World I Never Made is a new entrant into the amateur category. In it a father travels to Paris to identify the remains of his daughter who apparently died a suicide. Things are of course never straightforward in these books and he finds his daughter had fallen in with terrorists and her secrets are the interest of a wide range of intelligence and terrorist organizations.

Our nearly lost American hero falls in with a French policewoman and it is no surprise that a romance soon develops. The duo then begins unraveling the terrorist plot across Europe amid increasing threats and danger.

The novel suffers from the typical first novel problems including some slowness of the plot and odd descriptions. I personally would have liked to see a bit less on the relationships and more on the action. That said, it is nice to see more writers using the post-Cold War era to tell spy stories. There are lots of stories left to be told in this genre.

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