"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Expats by Chris Pavone (a TLC book review)

The Expats
Author:  Chris Pavone
Publisher: Broadway
Published: January 22, 2013
Pages: 352
Category: Suspense/fiction
Edition:  Hard Cover
ISBN 9780307956354
Source:  A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

At first glance, Kate Moore is an ordinary American expat mom whose days are filled with coffee mornings and the mundane demands of childcare. But Kate is also guarding a secret: until recently she’d been leading a double life as a CIA agent, traveling the globe on increasingly dangerous covert missions. After her job drives her to commit an unforgivable act, Kate is ready for a less eventful life, and her husband Dexter’s new job as a financial systems security consultant in Luxembourg provides the perfect exit strategy. But still she remains unable to bring herself to reveal her secret to him.
As Kate struggles to adapt to her new expat existence, always wondering when her past will catch up with her, her spook instincts take over and she grows suspicious of those around her. There’s an overly friendly American couple, Bill and Julia, who clearly are not who they say they are, and who Kate suspects may be assassins; and Dexter has become withdrawn, evasive, and unhealthily absorbed in his work, which mysteriously leads him to come home with mud-stained shoes. When Kate breaks her vow to never investigate her own husband and begins to dig for the truth, her world quickly unravels as she discovers that Dexter has been harboring an explosive secret of his own—and that he may be involved in a dangerous scheme involving shell corporations, unforgiven war crimes, and the brazen theft of 50 million euros.
Transporting readers from the cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg to the snow-capped peaks of the Alps to an unforgettably climactic scene in Paris, THE EXPATS is an international thriller in the tradition of established masters such as John Le Carré, Ken Follett, and Frederick Forsyth. At the same time, it is a skillfully drawn, character-driven exploration of marital deception that breaks the bounds of the espionage genre and will appeal broadly to fans of psychological suspense.
“Sly…Pavone strengthens this book with a string of head-spinning revelations in its last pages…The tireless scheming of all four principals truly exceeds all sane expectations.”—New York Times 
“Smartly executed…Pavone is full of sharp insights into the parallels between political espionage and marital duplicity…Thoroughly captivating.” —New York Times Book Review 
“Bombshell-a-minute…Pavone creates a fascinating, complicated hero.” –Entertainment Weekly 
“Amazing…Impossible to put down…Pavone invokes memories of the great writers of spy fiction of the past, and he has the chops to be mentioned with the best of them.”—Associated Press
“I often thought I was again reading the early works of Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, and Robert Ludlum. Smart, clever suspense, skillfully plotted.” —John Grisham
“Bristling with suspense and elegantly crafted, The Expats introduces a compelling and powerful female protagonist you won’t soon forget. Well done!” —Patricia Cornwell

My Review:

Masterfully planned and executed, much like the feats of his own characters in The Expats; Chris Pavone's debut novel is a thrilling and enthralling read that is sure to hit the bestseller lists!!

I've read some amazing books in the last year, but thrillers like The Expats don't often come my way, which is rather sad, really.  I love a book that hooks you in the first few lines, has you in its grasp and doesn't let go until the end.  Plot twists and reveals offer up new unexpected surprises in this novel that keep you turning pages, in anticipation of what the author has devised next.

Kate's and Dexter's characters are well developed, especially Kate's.  Kate is a strong protagonist, with a multi-faceted personality.  Motherhood brought out the nurturer in her but her past lives on as an ever present entity.  We see it in her thoughts, her awareness, her actions and her suspicions.  And, like her, as the story reveals itself, we are made aware that her husband, Dexter, may not be so cut and dried.  There are layers within this man that slowly become revealed and yet, perhaps even he has been fooled! 

As we pass from the past tense to "today", we catch glimpses of a background of clues that slowly compile, eventually meeting up with the present day, making this suspense a whole.  At first it was a bit confusing, the passing between tenses, but as The Expats reaches its climax, the international intrigue becomes more and more complex. We know the tenses have to meet, and when they do, wow! I love that in a book and the ability to do the slow reveal in an author!!

Bonus for me, John Grisham endorsed this novel!!!  (I love John Grisham's legal thrillers!)

***Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours, I have one copy of The Expats to give away to a lucky commenter!!!  To enter, all you have to do is leave a meaningful comment below with your email address.  I will choose a winner from the commenters on  February 9 (because that's my anniversary!!)  A winner will be contacted within 24 hours of draw date and will have 72 hours to respond.  Good luck!***

*Sensitive reader warning:  contains a few profanities and some sexual content.

Meet the author:

Chris Pavone, a book editor for nearly two decades, recently returned to New York City after a sojourn to Luxembourg. The Expats is his first novel.
Visit the author’s website at www.chrispavone.com.


  1. This looks really interesting! I don't do thrillers that often either, but I like the concept behind this one. And hey, if Grisham endorsed it then it's gonna be good, right? :)

    Thanks for your review. I happened to see this one at the bookstore today! I love the cover and the publisher's blurb kinda had me hooked. Too bad I was just browsing and had no cash for books!

    1. Brooks Williams,

      You are the winner and I will be emailing you shortly for your contact information. Congratulations!!

    2. Brooks, I found no means of contacting you. Please contact me at riverboat38(at)hotmail(dot)com with your contact information which I will forward to the publisher for release of the prize: a copy of The Expats!! Enjoy and congratulations.

  2. Brooks, you should definitely check this one out! I am entering you for a chance to win a copy! Thanks for commenting. I read your review of State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and left a comment there. State of Wonder is one of my favourite books that I read last year! I reviewed it here.

  3. I really appreciated the way Pavone created Kate as a loving mother who still misses the excitement of her past career...it didn't make her any less of a mother, and she was still able to carry on a whip smart clandestine investigation while folding loads of laundry :) This was a fast fun read for me too :)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. It was very enjoyable and I love that Kate was portrayed as a good mother with the yearnings of her previous career. It's not an uncommon conundrum and in Kate's case, it played out well, making her a relatable character even if we couldn't relate to her career choice.


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