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Authors: James Lepore

Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller

Blood of My Brother

BOOK: Blood of My Brother
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Table of Contents
 
 
 
Praise for
A World I Never Made
“I picked up
A World I Never Made
and was riveted from start to finish. An adventure to places both exotic and intimate, told with great sensitivity, inventive plotting, and propulsive suspense. Jim LePore is a great discovery.”
- William Landay, author of
The Strangler
 

A World I Never Made
is an outstanding first novel, and a wonderful thriller. The story moves very quickly, almost to the point that the reader feels as if they’ll miss something if they put the book down even for a moment . . . I’m looking forward to James LePore’s next work; this one was a gripping read that I would recommend to anyone.”
- Blogcritics
 
“A compelling page-turner--one of those wonderful books with characters as strong as the story and a story worth reading. Don’t miss it.”
- M.J. Rose, author of
The Memorist
 
“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 page.”
- Bella Online
 
“Nothing could have torn my attention away from this story.
A World I Never Made
by James LePore is a must read for thriller fans!”
- Cheryl’s Book Nook
 
“The plot of this intriguing, suspenseful novel is taut, moves rather rapidly, and mesmerizes the reader with each new complex, mysterious detail. James LePore knows how to spin an international thriller tale that slowly reveals an inner, fascinating depth to each character and to the developing connections between each and all. Well, well-done, James LePore!”
- Crystal Reviews
 
“Author James LePore has created a remarkable, gripping tale of suspense in his debut novel.
A World I Never Made
is filled with strong, vividly described international characters to whom the reader will quickly form an attachment, all the while being transported through wonderfully described exotic lands. The combination creates an atmosphere of breathless suspense affording readers a desire to continue reading up until the thrilling, yet tender, conclusion.”
- Feathered Quill Book
Reviews
 
“The suspense will keep you white-knuckled as the plot unfolds with plenty of depth and intelligence. In fact,
A World I Never Made
kept me so enthralled that I simply didn’t want it to end. So if you’re looking for a new author who can knock you breathless with a clever thriller, James LePore is the one to pick.”
- Nights and Weekends
 
“The key to this exciting thriller is the cast, especially the Nolan father and daughter . . . fans will enjoy this one sitting suspense thriller.” - The Mystery Gazette
- The Mystery Gazette
 
“James LePore writes in an exciting and most readable style. He is an artist at building the suspense as the story progresses to its ultimate conclusion. There is just enough doubt about the possible outcomes to keep the reader wondering and turning pages.
A World I Never Made
is a fine tale filled with love, adventure, mystery and suspense.”
- Mainly Mysteries
 
“A carefully crafted, well written book with a rich cast of characters and a plot as complicated and convoluted as the characters themselves.”
- Reader Views
 
“An unputdownable novel.”
- Everything Distills into Reading
To Kay and Jim LePore. May they rest in peace.
Acknowledgments
The final version of this novel is much different and, hopefully, much better than its first and many interim iterations. For reading those in-progress manuscripts, and offering their often helpful and always sincere comments, I am grateful to the following people: Jay Breslin; Steve Carroll; Bill Evans; Dave and Meryl Ironson; Bob, Pat, Joe, and Jerry LePore; Erica, Adrienne, and Jamie LePore; and Greg and Joy Ziemak. I hope they enjoy the final version, much of which will be new to them. I am also very grateful to my friend and editor, Lou Aronica, for his high level of professionalism and his passion for excellence. Working with him, with each new book I learn more of the craft and I get to go deeper into the land of imagination.
For teaching me how to land a small aircraft in an emergency (while sitting at my desk), I thank Frank Hippel, pilot and friend.
I save my most important acknowledgement for last. I thank my wife, Karen, for her love and encouragement, and for the example she sets for me in all things.
The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
 
- Genesis 4:10
Prologue
10:00 AM, July 12, 1967, Newark
In July of 1967, Jay Cassio, who would be turning five in September, started a prekindergarten program at St. Lucy’s School on Sheffield Street in Newark, New Jersey’s oldest, largest, and about to be most turbulent city. At the time, St. Lucy’s church and grammar school were at the spiritual and cultural center of the city’s First Ward, an enclave of Southern Italians that for sixty years had stubbornly clung to the customs and values of Italy’s Campagnia region from whence they and their parents had come in the great migration of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The school, housed in a nondescript but sturdy brick building next to the beautiful gothic church, started teaching grades K through six to the children of the first wave of Italian immigrants in 1906. Now it drew equal numbers of black and Hispanic boys and girls, their parents looking to the Sisters of Charity as sources of discipline and respect in the ghetto that, as a direct consequence of the mindless placement of a massive public housing project in its midst, the First Ward was fast becoming. An only child, with no cousins, Jay was slow to socialize. Taller than the other boys, he had not been picked on, or challenged; but shy, an involuntary air of isolation about him, neither had he been approached in friendship.
Jay lived a half block from the school, on Seventh Avenue, on the fourth floor of a four-story tenement, with his parents, A.J. and Carmela. The first floor was taken up by his father’s bakery, Cassio’s, founded by his great-grandfather in 1903. He was not lonely or afraid at school, but if he needed comfort ever, he had only to look down the short half-block of Sheffield Street to where it formed a T with Seventh Avenue. There, directly in sight at all times, were Cassio’s large, old-fashioned plate glass windows, through which, if he stared long enough, he could spot his father at work. Sometimes, A.J., in his white baker’s apron, his thick, black hair dusty with flour, would catch his eye, smile, and wave. On either side of the Cassios’ tenement were similar four- and five-story buildings with stores below and apartments above. If he was unable to see his father, the familiar faces of the women and small children who spent so much of their lives on the stoops and sidewalks in front of these tenements were always a delight to Jay, who, handsome, his large, gray eyes set perfectly below a clear brow and long, silky lashes, was a favorite in the neighborhood.
In the summer of 1967, when weeklong spasms of destruction called
race riots
swept the country’s major ghettos, Newark’s eruption was arguably the worst. A second tier city with virtually no national identity, its angry blacks were fueled to even more furious and mindless violence by their seeming invisibility compared to the attention given to Harlem and Watts. There was no Park Avenue or Rodeo Drive in Newark, no story of fabulous wealth threatened by mobs; only a series of bleak and poor neighborhoods made exponentially bleaker and poorer by six days of mayhem and death.
On the day the Newark riots started, Jay went at the morning recess with a group of children to the ice cream
truck on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Sheffield Street. The day was warm and balmy, not oppressively hot. Sirens could be heard blaring along Broad Street, about ten blocks away, the main artery leading from the First Ward to Newark’s slowly dying downtown. These were a common enough sound in the neighborhood. A hearse and three limousines, black and gleaming in the midmorning sun, were parked in front of St. Lucy’s. On the opposite side of Sheffield Street, directly across from the church, were Buildings D and E of the Columbus Homes, eight, featureless twelve-story “apartment” buildings erected by the federal government in 1955.
The First Ward was poor now, and bleak, but the
projects
, as they were universally called, were poorer and bleaker, a no-man’s-land teeming with drug addicts and the forerunners of today’s gangbangers. This gaunt “housing project,” surrounded by an aura of despair and menace, marked off a boundary keenly observed by the remnants—like the Cassios—of the old Italian-American community who were clinging to a last hope that the neighborhood would survive. There were no trees on Seventh Avenue or on Sheffield Street, nothing to block Jay’s view of his small piece of the world, or to soften its hard and grimy edges.
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