Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Expats by Chris Pavone

The Expats by Chris Pavone
Published by Broadway, ISBN 978-0-7704-3572-1
Trade paperback, $15, 352 pages

I was watching Bob Schieffer on CBS News' Face the Nation, and as his guests he had four authors who had written books that he had recently enjoyed. One of them was Chris Pavone, who had written a spy thriller, The Expats. 

Pavone said that his inspiration came when his family moved to Europe for his wife's job and he became a full-time dad. I had heard of the book, but Shieffer's enthusiasm and Pavone's description convinced me to put it on my TBR list.

Kate Moore is a CIA agent married to Dexter, a nerdy computer geek who works in banking security. Kate worked in the field for the CIA and we discover that she is more than an analyst; she was field agent who killed people. Her husband knows nothing of this, and thinks she writes position papers for the government.

So when Dexter comes home and tells Kate that he has a fantastic opportunity in Luxembourg. Kate quits her job, (no easy task) and off they go with their two young sons in tow. Kate makes friends with other expats, and she and Dexter become close friends with Julia and Bill.

Kate begins to become suspicious of the couple. Is it because she worked for the CIA that she harbors the idea that Julia and Bill are perhaps assassins? She contacts someone she knew in the CIA and puts her spy skills to the test to find out what is going on.

Meanwhile, Dexter is working longer hours and spending little time with the family. Their marriage is strained and soon Kate is snooping on her husband wondering what he is doing. Is he cheating on her? Is he involved in something illegal?

Pavone expertly unravels his story slowly, going between the present day in Paris and their time in Luxembourg, yet the story feels so fast-paced. This is a story that you will zip through to find out what is going on, yet at the same time you want to savor the writing and the relationship between Kate and Dexter.

I enjoyed being dropped into Luxembourg, watching Kate find her way becoming a full-time mom. Pavone brilliantly compares marriage to the spy game, intimating that people in a marriage may not really know their spouse as well as they think they do. I guarantee you that after reading this terrific novel, you will look a little closer at your spouse.

There is a nail-biting action and interaction between Kate and Julia, and between Kate and Dexter. As the story reaches it's crazy climax, I found I had to slow down reading in order to understand exactly what the heck was going on. There are double-and-triple crosses, tables become turned again and again and at the end, I'm still not completely sure what the heck happened.

This is a book that will appeal to John Grisham fans, although I like this better than I like most Grisham novels. Pavone combines heart-pounding action with fascinating characters, and I read it in two sittings. This is a very cinematic book, I'd love to see it onscreen, and I hope to read more of Kate's future adventures.

Watch Chris Pavone on Face the Nation 

rating 4 of 5

3 comments:

  1. Oh wow! I missed that little tidbit about Pavone moving to Europe and becoming a stay at home dad. I got a little confused with all the twists and turns and double double crosses as well by the end, but overall I enjoyed the book. I think Pavone shows promise and I'll definitely read his next book :)

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  2. I was intrigued by the book description and the high praise from Patricia Cornwell (one of my favorite authors) however this book falls short of its mark. While the writing seemed to improve in later chapters I was still unimpressed. There didn't seem to be a good flow to the story and it jumped around from present to past without any rhyme or reason. However, there were enough plot twists to hold my interest through the whole book. I would suggest checking this book out of the library or borrowing it from a friend. It was a decent read but not worth spending money on.

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