‘The Expats’ by Chris Pavone

The Expats

by Chris Pavone

Crown Publishing

Pub. Date:   March 6, 2012

Book received from: Publisher


The spy novel genre has just been altered, and there is a new kid on the block, who has moved in with a story that is unforgettable.  There is nothing that is derivative about Chris Pavone’s The Expats.  In what is sure to be one of the best books of the year, Pavone delivers a spot-on, carefully constructed plot line that finds genius in the simplicity in the quiet stories of everyday life.  With a lead character that is instantly likeable, despite her dark past, the story is compassionately told.

This is not just a story about an ex-CIA agent that cannot out run her past.  It is about a woman who decides to build a new future for herself and her family by changing her present position in life.  It is about the sacrifices and decisions a mother makes to protect her children, and how sometimes that means not knowing what the right choice is; the mistakes that are made cannot be erased, but the damage can be minimized to the best of our ability.

What struck me about this book is how poignantly Kate’s role as a mother, and her attempted domestication is portrayed.  After reading, it came as a surprise that Chris Pavone is a man.  Perhaps I should not have been surprised, as it makes me sound biased.  However, it is rare to see such a full, complex, and real female lead written by a man with such believability.

When I received The Expats to read, I really did not know that much about it.  Only the basic premise that Kate, the lead character, was involved in the CIA and it was based in Luxembourg.  Although I want to share everything about this book, I think the best way to read it is to approach it without too much insight.  Just know that you will have a hard time putting it down once you begin, as the story unfolds and the decisions that are made are not always what are expected.  This is truly the most subtly written spy novel that I have ever read- and therein lays the magic and beauty between its covers.   Pavone hit it spot-on with the beginning quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.”

This book can be purchased at Amazon.com, as well as your local independent bookseller.

For more about Chris Pavone, go to his website here.


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