Book Banter: The Expats

expatsTitle: The Expats

Author: Chris Pavone

Genre: literary/mystery

Length: 327 pages

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: The Indianapolis Public Library

Plot Basics: Kate is a stay-at-home mom with a life-defining secret. When her husband proposes they move to Luxembourg for his job — something with computers and finances that Kate doesn’t understand — she has an opportunity to reinvent herself. Shopping, coffee with other moms, building IKEA furniture. However, when another American couple shows up, Kate grows increasingly suspicious of them. She starts peeling back layers of secrets, only to find more and more disturbing and dangerous truths.

Banter Points: When the boss at work  says, “Go to this author event,” I consider that a good day. I pulled up the information on who were the featured authors at this year’s Christamore House Guild Author luncheon and scratched my head. As the bookish person I am, I was ashamed I didn’t know any of them. Not just hadn’t read them, but wasn’t sure I’d even heard of them.  Not a one. I hate going to an author thing when I don’t know any of their works, so I did the only logical thing I could: I looked at the covers and descriptions and picked the one I thought I would like best.

Chris Pavone’s “The Expats” is another book likely to end up in my Top Ten for the year. Pavone’s novel is reminiscent of John LeCarre. It’s a spy novel, a thriller, but it’s quiet and disguised. It almost feels like women’s fiction at first, the seeming normalcy of Kate’s life and her work to raise her boys and keep the spark of a relationship alive with her husband.

But Pavone delivers the twists with deft, small motions. The book isn’t a running-around-shooting-people thriller novel. It’s the mental games of wondering what’s true (though not as dark as the psychological thriller, “Gone Girl”).

Bummer Points: When the final reveal happens, it’s mostly through talking and I feel like Pavone lost some of the emotional punch that it could have had.

Word Nerd Recommendation: I saw a number of people give this book only one star on Goodreads. The plot jumps around in time which they didn’t like and it seemed like their wanted it to be a Bourne-style book. But, if you’re willing to hang on in the first few chapters and accept a quiet thriller, you won’t be disappointed.

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