The Expats by Chris Pavone

the_expatsFormat: E-book

Length: 326 pages

Source: Borrowed from the library

From Goodreads:

Kate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage . . . and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew.

She begins to reinvent herself as an expat, finding her way in a language she doesn’t speak, doing the housewifely things she’s never before done—play-dates and coffee mornings, daily cooking and unending laundry. Meanwhile, her husband works incessantly, doing a job Kate has never understood, for a banking client she’s not allowed to know. He’s becoming distant and evasive; she’s getting lonely and bored.

Then another American couple arrives. Kate soon becomes suspicious that these people are not who they claim to be, and terrified that her own past is catching up to her. So Kate begins to dig, to peel back the layers of deception that surround her. She discovers fake offices and shell corporations and a hidden gun; a mysterious farmhouse and numbered accounts with bewildering sums of money; a complex web of intrigue where no one is who they claim to be, and the most profound deceptions lurk beneath the most normal-looking of relationships; and a mind-boggling long-play con threatens her family, her marriage, and her life.

Here’s what I thought:

I had high hopes for this book. I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but this one sounded interesting and I liked the idea of cool expat spy mom (being a (non-cool) expat (non-spy) mom, myself). Unfortunately, the book didn’t really live up to my expectations.

The main character of Kate is rather unbelievable. First, she makes a lot of amateur mistakes for someone who is supposedly a former CIA agent. She bumbles her way around Europe trying to, or rather not trying very hard to figure out what is actually going on in her own life. She has been married to her husband, Dexter, for years and they have two children together, yet she is reluctant to question anything about his past or what he is doing suddenly moving them across the ocean for a job she doesn’t understand. After settling in Luxembourg, she is befriended by a couple who seem very suspicious and yet she only realizes after the fact that, hey!–they might be bugging her phone and computer and car!

Maybe I’ve watched too many movies where spies comes across as superhumanly competent, but Kate is just way too gullible and slow. I found myself certain that there was another story, a smarter one, going on behind the scenes and was sure it would be revealed by the end. Nope, no smart story here. Everything is pretty much as it seems, and because we get Kate’s point of view and figure things out as she does, there are no real surprises for the reader.

My last beef would have to be with the portrayal of the expat lifestyle. Granted, I moved abroad as the wife of a French citizen and haven’t experienced life as part of a true expat couple, but why do none of the wives actually have to work for a living? All the women in this book do is take their kids to school and drink coffee. The underlying assumption that all expats are wealthy and frivolous with their time, only hanging out with other expats, was a bit insulting. If it’s true somewhere, I’m glad I don’t live there.

So, all in all a bit of a dud and not a book I would recommend.

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4 thoughts on “The Expats by Chris Pavone

  1. kimbacaffeinate

    Sorry this ended up being a dud..but if the characters action don’t ring true it ruins the plots believability

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