The international thriller that Patricia Cornwell says is “bristling with suspense” about an American abroad who finds herself in complex web of intrigue.
Can We Ever Escape Our Secrets?
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 - playdates and coffee mornings, daily cooking and never-ending laundry. Meanwhile, her husband works incessantly, at 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 say they are, and she’s 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, and finally unravels the mind-boggling long-play con that threatens her family, her marriage, and her life.
Stylish and sophisticated, fiercely intelligent and expertly crafted, The Expats proves Chris Pavone to be a writer of tremendous talent.
©2012 Chris Pavone (P)2012 Random House Audio
“A stunningly assured first novel.... An intricate, suspenseful plot that is only resolved in the final pages. The juxtaposition of marital deceptions and espionage is brilliantly employed.... A must for espionage fans.” (Booklist)
“Brilliant, insanely clever, and delectably readable, this debut thriller breaks the espionage genre bounds with its American-as-apple-pie heroine... Pavone displays the best characteristics of the form and will earn a faithful and yearning readership.” (Library Journal)
“Fans of John le Carre and Robert Ludlum will welcome [this] meticulously plotted, psychologically complex spy thriller.... The sheer amount of bombshell plot twists are nothing short of extraordinary, but it’s Pavone’s portrayal of Kate and her quest to find meaning in her charade of an existence that makes this book such a powerful read.” (Publishers Weekly)
This book really keeps you interested from start to finish, but it features nearly non stop flash backs, jumping through time continually. In the book I assume the reader could tell this from page breaks, but in the audiobook there's little to clue you in. However, I could usually catch on to where we were in time within a few sentences, and it did really keep me engaged.
Also, the reader's voice is a bit disengaged. She does a great job at the voices, but the narration feels kind of dry.
I think if this novel had been written in a more linear style, I would have enjoyed it more. I don't have a problem with flashbacks but this jumps around in time so much that it can be diffcult to follow, especially when you're listening to it. The author uses some French phrases and most of the time doesn't translate them. I don't think you lose a lot but why bother using the lines if they don't matter? The narrator did an excellent job.
I have to say I enjoyed it -- and would recommend it -- but there is something definitely missing (aside from plausibility, which is not a "must" for me if the story is well done). Perhaps there are a tad too many plot twists (except that this also happens to be one of the things that keeps you hooked). Perhaps the main character is a tad too cold (except that is what makes her "life" remotely believable). Still, the performance is excellent and I couldn't stop listening. Just when you think you have figured out what happens next, something else does.
I saw a media review of this book and immediately wanted to check it out. Some negative reviews on book reader sites like this one gave me pause but I read anyway because of course opinions vary.
I am extremely pleased that I decided to go ahead and read this. I REALLY liked it. I think some of the author quotes attached to it are mis-leading so people may get something different than they expect.
A great deal of this book (3/4) in mundane soccer mom stuff laced with a really good white collar crime story line. The last 1/4, right through the end is where the entire story unfolds.
It's definitely slow getting to the crux of the plot. I did find myself half way through like "OK get to the good stuff". As things became clear I thought it was superbly thought out. Good debut novel.
The summary of the book sold this story as a spy thriller wrapped up in the context of the difficulty of family life. The story never moves beyond the main character's constant inner dialogue of how she feels about her actions and the situations around them. I find myself annoyed with at least 4 chapters of contemplation between each forward movement in the plot. My 10 hour drive was made exponentially more tedious by this book.
Great story. I can't even fault the narrator. Where the audio fails is in the editing. There's several story lines going at once which all converge in the end. The production/editing is slapdash which leaves the listener wondering exactly where in the story they are. Would've been a much better listen if the editor had employed pauses, or some other device, to signal the changes in story lines.
No. Hard to follow due to narrator not being able to differentiate between characters.
Slow. Soooo slooow. Exposition is necessary. We need to know how the characters got the situation in the book. The author takes exdposition to the extreme. Halfway through the first part I realized that absolutely no action had taken place. It was all background information on the characters. In fact action only picked up in the latter part of the second part. I never cared for the characters and neither the author no the indifferent narrator make me care. On several ocassions I considered turning it off.
This book definitely does not follow predictable plot lines and is well-written and beautifully read. I would characterize this work as intelligent entertainment and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The jumps in time, however, are frequently sudden and if you are not paying attention (or have fallen asleep!) you may be a bit confused about what is taking place.
This book is close to unbearable - not because the plot is - well - silly. I can deal with a silly plot if the writing is any good. The problem with this book is that is it drowning in endless inane lists. Run on sentences about the mundane drudgery of post CIA housewifery - laundry and playdates and coffee dates and tennis coaches and preschool cuteness and Ikea furniture and.. on and on. Just when you get to an actual event that is germane to the story - you are subjected to yet more filler - the same stuff over and over until you must seriously consider blowing off this listen altogether. It's almost as if the author was being paid by the word!! Skip this one.
I was expecting more...more details about the protagonist's domestic life, her dilemmas around secret-keeping, more about the husband's various undercover projects.More details about balancing the wife's soccer-mom life with the spy life.
This story did not resonate because, in typical spy novel style, it's all action, events and facts, with little or no insight into the characters. The story lines have great potential, however, and I'd love to read a "do-over" by this or another author.
Add to the "something's missing" feeling the constant jumble of time frames and you get an extremely difficult read.
Narration was excellent, though, and I did find a use for this listen, finished it by using the book as background noise while engaging in other activities. At times, logic would win out.
In all fairness, I suppose I could give it another try. It's just that, in this book anyway, the author seems to be trying way too hard to be oblique and arcane - it's genre-bending without the logic and narrative skills to engage the reader and sustain the story. I am only commenting on the work - not on the skills and creative vision of the author, by whom I'd love to see more.
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