The Expats

The Expats

3.5 126
by Chris Pavone
     
 

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
EDGAR AWARD WINNER  *  ANTHONY AWARD WINNER
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE ACCIDENT

Can we ever escape our secrets?

In the cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg, Kate Moore's days are filled with playdates and coffee mornings, her weekends spent in Paris and skiing in the Alps. But Kate is also

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
EDGAR AWARD WINNER  *  ANTHONY AWARD WINNER
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE ACCIDENT

Can we ever escape our secrets?

In the cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg, Kate Moore's days are filled with playdates and coffee mornings, her weekends spent in Paris and skiing in the Alps. But Kate is also guarding a tremendous, life-defining secret—one that's become so unbearable that it begins to unravel her newly established expat life. She suspects that another American couple are not who they claim to be; her husband is acting suspiciously; and as she travels around Europe, she finds herself looking over her shoulder, increasingly terrified that her own past is catching up with her. As Kate begins to dig, to uncover the secrets of the people around her, she finds herself buried in layers of deceit so thick they threaten 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.

Now with an except from Chris Pavone's latest novel, The Accident

Also features Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content

Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
As it repeatedly morphs from humdrum dailiness into espionage maneuvers, The Expats pulls off the crazy illusion that these elements actually belong in the same story…Mr. Pavone strengthens this book with a string of head-spinning revelations in its last pages, as layer after layer of deceit is peeled away. (Think of an onion.) The tireless scheming of all four principals truly exceeds all sane expectations.
—The New York Times
Marilyn Stasio
…smartly executed…Pavone is full of sharp insights into the parallels between political espionage and marital duplicity…The absence of a story angle linking Kate's personal quest to some larger issue of international consequence keeps this novel outside the mainstream of espionage fiction. But the intimate look it offers into the experiences of people who exist in a boring but happy limbo…makes The Expats thoroughly captivating.
—The New York Times Book Review
Patrick Anderson
The Expats is mostly stylish, sophisticated entertainment…[that] ends strongly, as the long-delayed secrets of all four main characters come tumbling out. Most readers will put the book aside satisfied and probably with fond feelings for intrepid Kate. She's no Lisbeth Salander; she's a proper lady as action hero, sporting pearls, Prada and Jimmy Choo along with her hidden Beretta…
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Fans of John le Carré and Robert Ludlum will welcome former book editor Pavone’s first novel, a meticulously plotted, psychologically complex spy thriller. When Dexter Moore, a financial systems security expert in Washington, D.C., receives a lucrative offer to work for a bank in Luxembourg, his wife, Kate, resigns her position as a CIA operative—a job her husband knows nothing about—and vows to recreate herself as a devoted wife and mother to their two boys. But Kate soon discovers that computer geek Dexter has been living a secret life as well, and that he may be a thief being investigated by the FBI and Interpol who’s stolen millions of euros in online banking transactions. 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. Agent: David Gernert, the Gernert Company. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
EDGAR AWARD WINNER
ANTHONY AWARD WINNER

“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.” —The New York Times

“Bombshell-a-minute. . . . Pavone creates a fascinating, complicated hero.”
Entertainment Weekly

“A gripping spy drama and an artful study of the sometimes cat-and-mouse game of marriage.” —Family Circle

“Smartly executed. . . . Pavone is full of sharp insights into the parallels between political espionage and marital duplicity. . . . Thoroughly captivating.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Superb. . . . [Pavone] expertly draws readers along with well-timed clues and surprises. . . . An engineering marvel.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Expertly and intricately plotted, with a story spiraling into disaster and a satisfyingly huge amount of double-crossing, The Expats certainly doesn’t feel like a first novel.  This is an impressively assured entry to the thriller scene.” —The Guardian (UK)

“Refreshingly original. . . . Part Ludlum in the pacing, part Le Carré in the complexity of story and character, but mostly Chris Pavone. . . . A thriller so good that you wonder what other ideas [Pavone] has up his cloak, right alongside the obligatory dagger.” —The Star-Ledger

“Pavone plunges around with a plot-load of surprises...and he moves smoothly between the mundane and the melodramatic...The spinning of the plot is ingenious.” —The Washington Times

“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

“A blast. . . . Pavone is spinning a fantastic tale with action that spans the globe.” —Dallas Morning News

“Highly entertaining.” —Mystery Scene

“Thoroughly enjoyable.” —Suspense Magazine

“Hard to put down.” —San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Stunningly assured. . . . An intricate, suspenseful plot that is only resolved in the final pages.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Brilliant, insanely clever, and delectably readable.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“Meticulously plotted, psychologically complex. . . . 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 (starred review)

“Impressive. . . . With almost more double-crosses than a body can stand.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Bristling with suspense and elegantly crafted, The Expats introduces a compelling and powerful female protagonist you won't soon forget. Well done!” —Patricia Cornwell

“I often thought I was again reading the early works of Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, and Robert Ludlum. Smart, clever suspense, skillfully plotted, and a lot of fun to read.” —John Grisham

“One of the best-written spy thrillers I've ever read. . . . A riveting story of great-game deceptions wrapped inside the smaller deceptions of marriage. At moments horrifying, hilarious, and very wise, The Expats has given Chris Pavone a permanent place on my short list of must-read authors.” —Olen Steinhauer

“A gem. Clever, suspenseful with a jet fueled story that rockets from one corner of the globe to another, it is never less than a thrill a minute. . . . An absolute winner!” —Christopher Reich

“Spy stories need to budge over to make space for Kate Moore—mother, wife, expat and far more than she appears. I loved her.” —Rosamund Lupton

“Riveting.  One of the most accomplished debuts of recent years: not just a worthy addition to the literature of espionage and betrayal, but a fine portrait of a marriage disintegrating under the pressure of secrets and lies.” —John Connolly

San Francisco Bay Guardian
Hard to put down. . . . The Expats is as much a novel about a woman trying to balance a job, a husband and kids as it is a spy thriller. . . . It works. Put it on the spring list.
Suspense Magazine
A thoroughly enjoyable thriller with just the right amount of twists. . . . Pavone masterfully layers all the action and deceit, the head games and plot twists, keeping the reader guessing. . . . Highly recommended.
Booklist
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.
Library Journal
Kate is a young mom cozily wrapped up in her expat life in tiny Luxembourg—her two young sons and husband fill her days. What keeps her up at night glued to the Internet is the suspicion that a couple of casual buddies she met on the cocktail circuit are really assassins. Fueled by her 15 years as a covert CIA agent, Kate's obsession soon leads her to deeply hidden plots that involve 50 million euros, a suddenly flaky husband with curiously muddy shoes, and herrings—red and not—that rip her comfy world to tatters. VERDICT Brilliant, insanely clever, and delectably readable, this debut thriller breaks the espionage genre bounds with its American-as-apple-pie heroine. Standing on the shoulders of such giants as Robert Littell, Gayle Lynds, Eric Ambler, Helen MacInnes, and Daniel Silva, Pavone displays the best characteristics of the form and will earn a faithful and yearning readership. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/11; see the Q&A with Pavone on p. 98.]—Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, Va
Kirkus Reviews
An impressive thriller by first-time novelist Pavone, with almost more double-crosses than a body can stand. Dexter and Kate Moore move to Luxembourg with their two young children so Dexter can make a pile of money working as a security consultant for a bank. Unknown to him, Kate has been working for the CIA but has recently quit, disgusted by her role as an agent occasionally called on to terminate wayward enemies. In Luxembourg they meet Bill and Julia, an attractive couple with whom they begin to socialize, but, as in all good thrillers, nothing is as it seems. Bill and Julia are FBI agents hot on the trail of the seemingly innocuous and nerdy Dexter, whose knowledge of bank security--trying to find breaches in the system--also allows him to find cunning access points, and it seems he may have stolen €50 million. That her husband has a secret life he hasn't been sharing surprises Kate...who, of course, also has a secret life she hasn't been sharing. Kate pushes herself to try to find out whether Bill and Julia are right about Dexter or whether they're trying to run a scam of their own, for it appears that Julia in particular is not to be trusted. The novel switches chronology from a series of flashbacks to how Kate and Dexter's life unravels in Luxembourg and how Julia and Bill catch up with the Moores in Paris a year later. While Kate occasionally has to rely on former CIA contacts to help straighten out the mess she finds herself in, she shows herself quite capable of ruthlessness and venality. A thoroughly competent and enjoyable thriller with unanticipated twists that will keep readers guessing till the end.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307956378
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
03/06/2012
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
26,153
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

An excerpt selection from The Expats by Chris Pavone
 
Katherine had seen them many times, at international airports, with their mountains of cheap luggage, their faces merging worry with bewilderment with exhaustion, their children slumped, fathers clutching handfuls of red or green passports that set them apart from blue-passported Americans.

They were immigrants, immigrating.

She’d seen them departing from Mexico City after a bus from Morelia, or air transfers from Quito or Guatemala City. She’d seen them in Managua and Port-au-Prince, Caracas and Bogotá. Everywhere in the world she’d gone, she’d seen them.

Now she is one of them.

Now this is her, curbside at the airport in Frankfurt-am-Main. Behind her is a pile of eight oversized mismatched suitcases. She’d seen such gigantic suitcases before in her life, and had thought, Who in their right mind would ever buy such unmanageable, hideous luggage? Now she knows: someone who needs to pack absolutely everything, all at once.

Strewn around her mountain of ugly person-size suitcases are carry-on bags and a purse and two computer bags and two little-child knapsacks, and, on low-lying outcroppings, jackets and teddy bears and a Ziploc filled with granola bars and fruit, both fresh and dried, plus brown M&M’s; all the more popular colors had been eaten before Nova Scotia.

This is her, clutching her family’s blue passports, distinct from the Germans’ burgundy, standing out not just because of the vinyl colors, but because locals don’t sit around on piles of hideous luggage, clutching passports.

This is her, not understanding what anyone was saying, the language incomprehensible. After a seven-hour flight that allowed two hours of sleep, spent and hungry and nauseated and excited and fearful.

This is her: an immigrant, immigrating.

She’d begun by taking Dexter’s family name. She’d acknowledged that she no longer needed her maiden name, her professional name. It would be easier to navigate bureaucracies, to live in a Catholic country, if the husband and wife shared the same name. She was already giving up the rest of her identity, and the name was merely incremental.

So she is someone she’s never before been: Katherine Moore. She’ll call herself Kate. Friendly, easygoing Kate. Instead of severe, serious Katherine. Kate Moore sounds like someone who knows how to have a good time in Europe. For a few days she’d auditioned Katie, in her mind, but concluded that Katie Moore sounded like a children’s book character, or a cheerleader.

Kate Moore orchestrated the move. She froze or canceled or address-changed dozens of accounts. She bought the luggage. She sorted their belongings into the requisite three categories—checked baggage, air-freight, sea-freight. She filled out shipping forms, insurance forms, formality forms.

She managed to extract herself from her job. It had not been easy, nor quick. But when the exit interviews and bureaucratic hurdles were cleared, she endured a farewell round of drinks at her boss’s Capitol Hill house, which Kate was both relieved and disappointed to discover was not noticeably larger, nor in much better condition, than her own.

This, she tells herself again, is my chance to reinvent myself. As someone who’s not making a half-assed effort at an ill-considered career; not making an unenergetic, ad hoc stab at parenting; not living in an uncomfortably dilapidated house in a crappy unneighborly neighborhood within a bitter, competitive city—a place she chose when she shipped off to her freshman year at college, and never left. She’d stayed in Washington, in her career, because one thing led to another. She hadn’t made her life happen; it had happened to her.

The German driver turns up the music, synthesizer-heavy pop from the eighties. “New Wave!” he exclaims. “I love it!” He’s drumming his fingers violently against the wheel, tapping his foot on the clutch, blinking madly, at nine a.m. Amphetamines.
Kate turns away from this maniac, and watches the pastoral countryside roll past, gentle hills and dense forests and tight little clusters of stone houses, huddled together, as if against the cold, arranged into tiny villages surrounded by vast cow fields.

She will reboot herself. Relaunch. She will become, at last, a woman who is not constantly lying to her husband about what she really does, and who she really is.
 
# # #
 
“Luxembourg?”

“Yes.”

Luxembourg?”

“That’s right.”

Katherine didn’t know how to react. So she decided on the default, deflection via ignorance. “Where is Luxembourg?” Even as she was asking this disingenuous question, she regretted it.

“It’s in Western Europe.”

“I mean, is it in Germany?” She turned her eyes away from Dexter, from the shame at the hole she was digging for herself. “Switzerland?”

Dexter looked at her blankly, clearly trying—hard—to not say something wrong. “It’s its own country. It’s a grand duchy,” he added, irrelevantly.

“A grand duchy. You’re kidding.”

“It’s the only grand duchy in the world. It’s bordered by France, Belgium, and Germany,” Dexter continued, unbidden. “They surround it.”

“No.” Shaking her head. “There’s no such country. You’re talking about—I don’t know—Alsace. Or Lorraine. You’re talking about Alsace-Lorraine.”

“Those places are in France. Luxembourg is a different, um, nation.”

She redirected her attention to the cutting board, the onion in mid-mince, sitting atop the counter that was threatening to separate entirely from the warped cabinetry beneath it, pulled apart by some primordial force—water, or gravity, or both—pushing the kitchen over the brink from acceptably shabby to unacceptably crappy plus unhygienic and outright dangerous, finally forcing the full kitchen renovation that, even after editing out every unnecessary upgrade and aesthetic indulgence, would still cost forty thousand dollars that they didn’t have.

As a stopgap, Dexter had secured C-clamps to the corners of the counter, to prevent the slab of wood from sliding off the cabinetry. These clumsily positioned clamps had caused Katherine to bang her hand, causing her knife to slip, the blade sliding silently into the meat of her left palm, bathing the mango and cutting board in blood. She’d stood at the sink, a dishrag pressed to her wound, blood dripping onto the ratty floor mat, spreading through the cotton fibers in the same pattern as the rug that day in the New York hotel, when she should’ve looked away, but didn’t.

“And what makes it a grand duchy?” She wiped the onion-tears from her eye.

“It’s ruled by a grand duke.”

“You’re making this up.”

“I’m not.” Dexter was wearing a very small smile, as if he might indeed be pulling her leg. But no, this smile was too small for that; this was the smile of Dexter pretending to pull a leg, while being dead-serious. A feint of a fake smile.

“Okay,” she said, “I’ll bite: why would we move to Luxembourg?”

“To make a lot of money, and travel around Europe all the time.”

“You’re going to make a lot of money? In Luxembourg? How?”

“It’s the private-banking capital of the world. And I just got offered a lucrative contract from one of those private banks. Plus I won’t even need to work that much.” Both of them had at one time been ambitious. But after ten years together and five with children, only Dexter sustained any modicum of ambition. Most of what remained was to work less. Or so Katherine had thought. Now apparently he also aspired to get rich. In Europe.

 “Can you tell me about the place? Because I obviously could’ve been wrong about what continent it’s on.” Once Katherine had begun this lie, she’d have to play along with it fully. That was the secret to maintaining lies: not trying to hide them. It had always been disturbingly easy to lie to her husband.

“It’s rich,” Dexter said. “The highest per capita GDP in the world. Also, it’s . . . um
 . . . it’s small. A half-million people. The size is Rhode Island–ish. But Rhode Island is, I think, bigger. A little. The capital is also called Luxembourg. Eighty thousand people live there.”

“Eighty thousand? That’s not a city. That’s—I don’t know—that’s a college town.”

“Yes. But it’s a beautiful college town. In the middle of Europe. Where someone will be paying me a lot of money. So it’s not a normal Amherst-style college town. And it’s a college town where you won’t need to have a job.”

Katherine froze mid-mince, at the twist in the road of this plan that she’d anticipated ten minutes ago, as soon as her husband had uttered the question “What would you think of moving to Luxembourg?” The twist that meant she’d have to quit her job, permanently. In that first flash of recognition, deep relief had washed over her, the relief of an unexpected solution to an intractable problem. She would have to resign. It was not her decision.

“So what would I do?” she asked. “In Luxembourg? Which I’m still not convinced is real. You have to admit, it sounds made-up.”

She had never admitted to her husband—had barely admitted to herself—that she wanted to quit. Now she would never have to admit it.

“You’ll live the life of leisure. Learn tennis. Plan our travels. Study languages.”

“And when I get bored?”

If you get bored? You can get a job. Washington isn’t the only place in the world where people write position papers.”

Katherine returned her eyes to her mangled onion, and resumed chopping, trying to sublimate the elephant that had just wandered into the conversation. “Touché.”

“In fact,” Dexter continued, “Luxembourg is one of the three capitals of the European Union, along with Brussels and Strasbourg.” He was now an infomercial for the goddamned place. “I imagine there are lots of NGOs that could use a savvy American on their well-funded payrolls.” Combined with a recruiting agent. One of those unfailingly cheery H.R. types with creases down the front of his khakis, shiny pennies in his loafers.

He reached into his pocket, and unfolded a sheet of legal-size paper. A spreadsheet, the title luxembourg budget across the top.  Katherine found the bottom line, a net savings of nearly two hundred thousand a year—euros? dollars? Whatever. She’d long ago reconciled herself to being broke, forever. But it was looking like forever was, after all, finite.

“This is it, Kat.” Dexter walked around the deteriorating kitchen counter, put his arms around her, from behind, changing the whole tenor of the conversation. “It’s different from how we’d imagined it,” he said, his breath hot against her skin. “But this is it.”

She lay down her knife. A farewell to arms. Not her first.

They had discussed this seriously, late at night, after wine. Or as seriously as they could, late, tipsy. They had no idea whether it would be difficult to arrive in another country, but it would definitely be easy to leave Washington. They still yearned for adventures they thought they’d missed; still thought it was possible. Or never allowed that it was impossible.

“But Luxembourg?” she asked. The foreign lands they’d imagined were places like Provence or London or Paris, maybe Prague or Budapest or even Istanbul. Romantic places; places where they—places where everyone—wanted to go. Luxembourg was not on this list, not on anyone’s list. Nobody dreams of living in Luxembourg.

Dexter kissed her neck, ran his hand down her stomach, below the waistline of her skirt, which he began to gather up in fistfuls. The children were on a play date.
 
# # #
 
The street turns gently and then ends abruptly, just like most European streets. In the States the streets are long and straight, extending for miles, dozens or scores or hundreds of blocks. But the French don’t even have a word for the idea of a city block.

The buildings are gray or tan or putty; the sidewalk is paved in light gray concrete, the street in dark gray asphalt. The cars are shades of silver and gray and sometimes black; the sky a sodden slate. It’s a colorless landscape, washed out by rain and the expectation of it, designed and constructed to match the weather.

They wander the warren of narrow cobblestoned streets of Centre, dipping up and down along the natural contours of the medieval fortress-city. They walk past the monarch’s palace, cafés with outdoor tables, a broad plaza with an outdoor market.

Through the thin rubber soles of her shoes, Kate feels all the ridges and valleys of the hard stones underfoot. She once spent a lot of her life walking uneven streets in unfamiliar cities; she once had the footwear for it. She even spent time walking these very same cobblestones, fifteen years earlier, when she’d had younger feet. Now, she’d be needing an entirely new collection of shoes, to go with her new everything else.

The children are marching dutifully in front of their parents, engrossed in a typically esoteric little-boy conversation, about Lego hair. Dexter takes Kate’s hand, here in the middle of town, in the liveliness of a European main square. They settle at a brasserie. In the middle of the crowded leafy place, a ten-piece band—teenagers—strikes up a cacophony. The scene is reminiscent of the many Mexican cities where Kate had once loitered: the plaza ringed with cafés and tourist shops, all the generations of residents—from gurgling newborns through gossiping old ladies, clutching each other’s arms—gathered around a bandstand, the amateurs playing local favorites, badly.

The long, far reach of European colonialism.

Kate spent the most time in Oaxaca’s zócalo, a half-mile east of her apartment next to the language school where she was taking advanced lessons, mastering dialects. She dressed as other women like her, in long linen skirts and peasant blouses, bandanas to tie up her hair, revealing a small—fake—butterfly tattoo at the base of her neck. Using a string bag to tote fruit from the 20th of November market. Hanging around cafés, drinking Negra Modelos.

One night, a few tables were pushed together, with a German couple and a few Americans plus the requisite young Mexican men who were always hitting on the women—they threw a lot of darts in the dark, but occasionally hit a bull’s-eye—when a good-looking, self-assured character asked if he could join. Kate knew who he was; everyone did. His name was Lorenzo Romero.

He was more handsome than she’d expected from his pictures. When it became clear that he was there to talk to Kate, she could barely contain her excitement. Her breath came short and shallow, her palms began to sweat. She had a hard time concentrating on his jokes and innuendo, but it didn’t matter. She understood what was going on. She allowed her blouse to fall open. She touched his arm, for too long.

She took a sip of beer, stealing her nerves. “Cinqo minutos,” she whispered, inclining her head toward the street. He nodded his understanding, licked his lips, his eyes eager.

The walk across the plaza lasted forever, cigar smoke and marijuana, slangy drunken English and the cackling of grandmothers. Under the trees, away from the streetlamps, couples were shamelessly groping.

Kate couldn’t believe she was doing this. She waited impatiently on Independencia, alongside the cathedral, in the shadows. He arrived, and came in for a kiss.

She shook her head. “No aquí.”  They walked silently to El Llano, the park where there used to be zoo, now a derelict space, scary for Kate by herself. She smiled at Lorenzo, and walked into the darkness. He followed, a predator coming in for the kill.

She took a deep, deep breath. This was it, finally. She turned around a thick tree trunk under a heavy canopy of leaves, and waited for him to follow, slipping her hand into the inside pocket of her loose-fitting canvas jacket.

When he came around the tree, she nuzzled the nozzle into his stomach and pulled the trigger twice before he had any idea what was happening. He fell limp to the ground. She fired once more, to the head, to be sure.

Lorenzo Romero was the first man she’d ever killed.
 
# # #
 
Kate stands alone at school, resting her umbrella so low that her head is touching the striped nylon, the aluminum ribs sitting on her shoulder, trying to safeguard the few undrenched portions of her body. Everything below the waist is soaked, squishing, unsalvageable.

Sheets of big, heavy drops are flooding from the dark, dense sky, pounding the concrete, thrumming the grass, loudly splattering in the deep puddles that pool in every dip or swale, crack or crevasse.

The mother groups are neatly divided by nationality. There are the self-sufficient groups of blue-eyed Danes and blonde Dutch, of high-heel-wearing Italians and ultra-healthy Swedes. The intermingled English-language groups dominated by pale Brits, with chunky Americans and ever-smiling Australians and aggressively friendly Kiwis. There are the hyper-insular Indians, and the utterly unapproachable Japanese. Individual roving Russians and Czechs and Poles, hoping to attach themselves to Western Europe, ingratiating, firm-handshaking, trying to get invited to join the EU, ignorant—willfully?—of the universal futility of trying to get invited to anything, ever.

There are even a few men scattered around, not talking to one another, each in his own independent orbit of strangeness.

It is now raining even harder. Kate wouldn’t have guessed that was possible.
 
# # #
 
“Hi,” Katherine said, walking into Joe’s office first thing in the morning. This one syllable was the full extent of her preamble. “I’m sorry to have to tell you that I’m resigning.”

Joe looked up from a report, grayish pages output from a dot-matrix printer that probably sat on a Soviet-made metal desk somewhere down in Central America.

“My husband got a job offer in Europe. In Luxembourg.”

Joe raised an eyebrow.

“And I thought, we might as well.” This explanation was a gross simplification, but it had the benefit of being honest.

Joe shut the folder, a heavy blue cover adorned with a variety of stamps and signatures and initials. There was a metal clasp at the side. He closed it, and looked up.

“Dexter does electronic security, for banks. There are a lot of banks in Luxembourg.”

Joe gave a half-smile.

“He’s going to work for one.” Katherine was surprised at the amount of regret she was suddenly feeling. With each passing second she was becoming increasingly convinced that she’d made the wrong decision, but was now honor-bound to follow it through.

“It’s my time, Joe. I’ve been doing this for . . . I don’t know . . .”

“A long time.”

The regret was accompanied by shame, a convoluted shame at her own pride, her inability to reconsider a bad decision, once made. “Yes. A long time. And honestly I’ve been bored, for a while. This is a great opportunity for Dexter. For us. To have an adventure.”

“You haven’t had enough adventure?”

“As a family. A family adventure.”

He nodded curtly.

“But really, this isn’t about me. Almost not at all. This is about Dexter. About his career, and maybe making a little money, finally. And about us living a different type of life.”

Joe opened his mouth slightly, small grayish teeth peeking out from under a bushy gray mustache that looked like it had been pasted onto his ashen face. For consistency, Joe also tended to wear gray suits. “Can you be talked out of this?”

For the preceding few days, while Dexter had been gathering more practical details, the answer would probably have been yes. Or at least maybe, possibly. Then in the middle of last night Kate had committed herself to making a final decision, had sat in bed and wrung her hands, bolt-upright at four a.m., agonizing. Trying to figure out what she wanted. She’d spent so much of her life—all of it, really—considering another question: what was it that she needed? But figuring out what she wanted was an entirely different challenge.

She came to the conclusion that what she wanted, now, began with quitting. Walking out of this office forever. Starting an entirely new chapter—a whole new book—in which she was a different character. She didn’t want to be a woman without any job, without any professional purpose; but she no longer wanted to be a woman with this job, this purpose.

So in the overcast light of an August morning, the answer was “No, Joe. I’m sorry.”
Joe smiled again, smaller and tighter; less of a smile, more of a grimace. His whole demeanor shifted, away from the midlevel bureaucrat he usually appeared to be. “Well then.” He moved aside the blue folder, and replaced it with a legal pad. “You understand there will be a lot of interviews?”

She nodded. Although quitting wasn’t something people discussed, she was vaguely aware that it wouldn’t be fast or simple. She’d never again set foot in her eight-by-eight office, never again walk into this building. Her personal material would be sent to her.

“They’ll start right now.” Joe flipped to a blank page. “Please”—he flicked his hand, demanding and dismissive at once, jaw tensed and brow furrowed—“shut the door.”
 
# # #
 
“Have you seen her?” the Italian asks. “The new American?”

Kate takes a sip of her café latte, and considers adding some sort of sweetener.
She’s having a hard time remembering if this Italian is named Sonia or Sophia or, in a one-of-these-things-does-not-belong type of way, Marcella. The only name she’s confident in is the elegant British woman, Claire, who chatted for fifteen minutes but then disappeared.

It doesn’t occur to Kate that this question can be directed at her, because she herself is the new American. As a way of underscoring her not-answering, Kate studiously looks around the table, for coffee-sweetener options. There’s a small ceramic container of white sugar cubes. There’s a glass pourer of brown sugar—or, rather, brownish sugar; this doesn’t look like the stuff you use for baking brownies, which Kate has done twice in her life, for school fundraisers. There’s a steel pitcher of steamed milk, and a glass carafe of unsteamed.

Kate had once been very good at remembering names; she’d once religiously employed mnemonic aids. But she’s now been out of practice for years.

If only everyone could wear nametags, all the time.

There’s a squat plastic container of cardboard coasters featuring a baroque coat-of-arms, with a lion and pennants and maybe snakes and a sun, and a castle turret, plus gothic lettering that she can’t make out because from where she sits it’s upside-down, this highly stylized black lettering. So she doesn’t even know what language it is that she’s unable to read.

There’s a steel napkin-dispenser, the napkins themselves those little tri-folds that manage to be both flimsy and sturdy at the same time, which seems impossible, but is not. Kate has found herself repeatedly wiping snot from Ben’s little nose with these tri-folds, which are everywhere; the kid has a cold. And she hasn’t come across those handy pocket packets of tissues that you can buy at virtually any genre of retailer in the United States, in gas stations and convenience stores and supermarkets, in candy shops and newsstands and drugstores. The drugstores in Luxembourg apparently sell only drugs. If you asked for tissues—if you could ask for tissues—the stern-looking woman behind the counter would probably laugh at you. Or worse. They are very stern-looking, all the women behind all the counters.

There is, of course, an ashtray on the table.

But what is not on this table is artificial sweetener; there’s never any artificial sweetener on any table. “Artificial sweetener” is not something Kate has learned how to say en Français. In her mind, she forms a French sentence that translates from “Is there a thing to put in coffee like sugar but different?” Is the word for sugar masculine or feminine? The difference would change her pronunciation of the word for different. Or would it? With which noun should that adjective agree? Is different even an adjective?
But “Is there a thing to put in coffee like sugar but different?” is, Kate fears, simply too retarded-sounding, so what the hell does it matter how she pronounces the final consonant sounds of different/differente? It doesn’t.

“Kate?” The Italian is looking directly at her. “Have you seen the new Americana?”

Kate is stunned to discover that she is the one being addressed. “No.”

“I believe that the new American woman does not have children, or at least none who attend our school, or she is not the person who is bringing the children to school or collecting them,” pipes up the Indian. Kate is impressed with how many words this woman uses to communicate her ideas.

Kate can’t help but wonder what these women said about her, two weeks ago, when she arrived to the first day of school. She looks around the café-bar in the large low-ceilinged room in the basement of the sports center. Upstairs, the children are taking after-school tennis lessons from Swedish coaches named Nils and Magnus. One is very tall and the other medium-tall; both can be accurately described as tall blond Swedish tennis coaches. All the tennis coaches here are Swedish. Sweden is six hundred miles away.

“Kate I apologize if I already asked this so please forgive me if it seems rude but I cannot remember if I asked: for how long are you planning to live here in Luxembourg?”

This is sort of hellish. Kate wants to excuse herself, get up and walk away, disappear.

This is one of the many aspects of expat life that she finds herself ill-equipped for: making pointless small talk with strangers.

But Kate is determined to try. She needs friends, and a life, and this is how you acquire those things: by talking to strangers. Everyone is a stranger, all on equal footing in strangerhood. The defining signifiers in the place you’re from—family, school, experiences—those things don’t matter here. Everyone starts from the same scratch, and this is it. Sitting with strangers, making small talk.

“How long?” Kate asks herself for the hundredth time. “I have no idea.”
 
# # #
 
The message light is blinking. But first the children need to be settled in front of the television. In Washington they’d never seen a single episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants; they don’t know it exists in English. What they are watching is Bob l’Eponge. A French invention.

And the groceries need to be unpacked. There’s a to-do list magnet-attached to the fridge. There are nineteen items on the list; they have crossed off fifteen. They have procured notarized copies of passports and birth certificates and marriage certificate, and applied for residency permits. They have opened bank accounts and insurance policies, bought mobile phones and small appliances and Ikea’s frozen meatballs. They have bought a used station wagon with an automatic transmission and under fifty thousand kilometers. It took a few weeks of online browsing to find such a car, a time frame that corresponded precisely to the period when they didn’t realize that the word break meant station wagon.

Kate turns on the German oven. The dozen options on the dial include the likes of Ober-Unterhitze, Intensivbacken, and Schnellaufheizen. She loves the sound of Intensivbacken, so she uses that setting for everything.

She drops a bottle of peach nectar, shattering on the stone tiles, sending not only chunks and shards and slivers of glass everywhere, but also sprays and drips and puddles and pools of thick, sticky juice. This takes her fifteen minutes to clean, on hands and knees, with paper towels and sponges and the cheap vacuum that came with the rented furnishings; their shipping container of belongings still isn’t due to arrive to the port of Antwerp for another few weeks.

It is impossible to overstate the extent to which she hates what she’s doing.
Dexter has no idea. None of the husbands knows what their wives do every day, during the six hours when the children are in school. The cooking classes and language lessons, the tennis instruction and, occasionally, the affairs with tennis instructors. Meeting everyone for coffee, all the time. The gym. The mall. Sitting around playgrounds, getting wet in the rain. One playground has a gazebo, where they can get less wet when it rains.

Dexter doesn’t know any of this, about her life in Luxembourg. Just as he didn’t know how Kate had spent her days, back in Washington, when she was doing something completely different from what she claimed.

A half-hour passes before Kate remembers to push the message button. “Hi, it’s me. Sorry, but I’m not going to make dinner.” Again. This is becoming tiresome. “I have a six o’clock call, then an eight. Home by nine thirty. I hope. Tell the boys I love them.”

Erase.

The washing-machine alarm buzzes just as Kate cuts a tomato in half. She sets the tomato down on a piece of paper towel. When she finishes folding the laundry, the tomato’s juices have bled onto the towel, radiating along the fault lines of its fibers, dark red tendrils reaching out, grabbing Kate’s consciousness and dragging her back to that hotel room, a man lying on the floor, blood oozing from a crater in the back of his head, seeping into the pale carpet in the same pattern as this tomato’s juices, on this paper towel.

And finally the children are asleep. Kate sprawls on the sofa, flipping channels, Italian game shows and Spanish soccer matches and bleak BBC dramas and a limitless assortment of programming in French or German.  She turns on one of last season’s HBO shows on iTunes, the laptop hooked up to the television via thick, multipronged cords, digital-media life support.

She hears the laughter of teenagers spilling out of a bar a block away, the high-pitched squeals reverberating on the cobblestones. She catches strains of English. These are little expat kids, sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds, smoking Marlboro Lights and drinking Red Bull–vodka concoctions until they throw up in the foyers of the small apartment buildings that surround the pubs, whose Portuguese cleaning ladies arrive to work at seven a.m., their first order of business to examine the nearby foyers, towing an industrial bucket on steel casters with a mop sitting upright in the wringer, cleaning up teenagers’ vomit.

The final item on the to-do list is underlined: Make a life.
 
# # #
 
“Nothing else?” Joe asked. “You sure?”

Katherine struggled to keep her breathing even. This could be about that thing that happened in Barbados, which hadn’t been entirely authorized. Or about the missing file on the Salvadoran goons. Or it could be nothing more complicated than Joe didn’t trust her. But most likely it was about that hotel room. For the past five years, Katherine had been convinced that it would come back to haunt her. To take revenge upon her.

Or it could be about nothing other than protocol.

“Yes,” she said. “I’m sure.”

Joe stared at her. She summoned the courage to stare back. Chicken, across a conference table. Five seconds, ten. A half-minute of silence. He could wait forever. This is what he did for a living. But so could she.

“Okay then,” Joe said. He glanced at his watch, scrawled a note. “I.D. on the table.”

Katherine removed the lanyard from her neck, hesitated, set it down.

Joe walked around the table to Katherine, his hand extended. “This is where you go tomorrow morning, nine a.m.” She looked at the paper, still not understanding that this phase was over. Things always end more suddenly than expected.

“Ask for Evan,” he said.

Katherine nodded.

“So that’s it.” Joe smiled, extended his hand again, this time for a shake. “You are no longer an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency. Good luck, Katherine.”
 

From the Hardcover edition.

What People are saying about this

John Connolly
Riveting.  One of the most accomplished debuts of recent years.
Patricia Cornwell
Bristling with suspense and elegantly crafted, THE EXPATS introduces a compelling and powerful female protagonist you won't soon forget. Well done!
Olen Steinhauer
One of the best-written spy thrillers I've ever read. . . . A riveting story of great-game deceptions wrapped inside the smaller deceptions of marriage. At moments horrifying, hilarious, and very wise, The Expats has given Chris Pavone a permanent place on my short list of must-read authors.
Rosamund Lupton
Spy stories need to budge over to make space for Kate Moore—mother, wife, expat and far more than she appears. I loved her.
From the Publisher
"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.” —The New York Times

“Bombshell-a-minute. . . . Pavone creates a fascinating, complicated hero.” Entertainment Weekly

“A gripping spy drama and an artful study of the sometimes cat-and-mouse game of marriage.” —Family Circle

“Smartly executed. . . . Pavone is full of sharp insights into the parallels between political espionage and marital duplicity. . . . Thoroughly captivating.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Superb. . . . [Pavone] expertly draws readers along with well-timed clues and surprises. . . . An engineering marvel.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Expertly and intricately plotted, with a story spiraling into disaster and a satisfyingly huge amount of double-crossing, The Expats certainly doesn’t feel like a first novel.  This is an impressively assured entry to the thriller scene.” —The Guardian (London)

“Refreshingly original. . . . Part Ludlum in the pacing, part Le Carré in the complexity of story and character, but mostly Chris Pavone. . . . A thriller so good that you wonder what other ideas [Pavone] has up his cloak, right alongside the obligatory dagger.” —The Star-Ledger

“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

“A blast. . . . Pavone is spinning a fantastic tale with action that spans the globe.” —Dallas Morning News

“Highly entertaining.” —Mystery Scene

“Thoroughly enjoyable.” —Suspense Magazine

“Hard to put down.” —San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Stunningly assured. . . . An intricate, suspenseful plot that is only resolved in the final pages.” —Booklist

“Brilliant, insanely clever, and delectably readable.” —Library Journal

“Meticulously plotted, psychologically complex. . . . 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

“Impressive. . . . With almost more double-crosses than a body can stand.” —Kirkus

“Bristling with suspense and elegantly crafted, The Expats introduces a compelling and powerful female protagonist you won't soon forget. Well done!” —Patricia Cornwell

“I often thought I was again reading the early works of Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, and Robert Ludlum. Smart, clever suspense, skillfully plotted, and a lot of fun to read.” —John Grisham

“One of the best-written spy thrillers I've ever read. . . . A riveting story of great-game deceptions wrapped inside the smaller deceptions of marriage. At moments horrifying, hilarious, and very wise, The Expats has given Chris Pavone a permanent place on my short list of must-read authors.” —Olen Steinhauer

“A gem. Clever, suspenseful with a jet fueled story that rockets from one corner of the globe to another, it is never less than a thrill a minute. . . . An absolute winner!” —Christopher Reich

“Spy stories need to budge over to make space for Kate Moore—mother, wife, expat and far more than she appears. I loved her.” —Rosamund Lupton

“Riveting.  One of the most accomplished debuts of recent years: not just a worthy addition to the literature of espionage and betrayal, but a fine portrait of a marriage disintegrating under the pressure of secrets and lies.” —John Connolly

Christopher Reich
A gem. Clever, suspenseful with a jet fueled story that rockets from one corner of the globe to another, it is never less than a thrill a minute. . . . An absolute winner!
John Grisham
I often thought I was reading the early works of Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, and Robert Ludlum. Smart, clever suspense, skillfully plotted.

Meet the Author

CHRIS PAVONE is a New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Edgar Award.  He was a book editor for nearly two decades and lives in New York City with his family. Pavone's second novel, The Accident is coming out in Spring 2014

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The Expats 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 126 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book on the recommendation of an anonymous reviewer at Publishers Weekly who likened it to the works by Robert Ludlum and Jean le Carre. This author is nowhere in the same league as those two giants of the genre, whose works with which l am very familiar. Shame on PW for allowing such a, dare I say phony, review to mislead serious readers. Either the reviewer did not bother to read "The Expats" or is not familiar with the works of Ludlum and le Carre before writing a bogus review. I disliked this book for a number of reasons, foremost among them being that it wasted my time with the most boring real-time minutiae of everyday life of a two-dimensional former CIA assassin (totally unbelievable, by the way) turned housewife with two kiddies who lend nothing to the story line here other than to fluff out the word count; it took me 54 pages to figure out that all I should have been doing was reading the first few words of each paragraph to skip past the fluff, which brought me to about page 253 before I discovered any (barely) worthwhile prose to read. There are four main characters in this book, including the unbelievable ex-spy housewife/mother, all of whom are two-dimensional and fit in very well with a weak story line that concludes in a ludicrous wind-down that had me thinking "huh!" Anyone who is considering buying "The Expats" should be aware that this book is neither a "spy" novel nor a "thriller"; as some professional "reviewers" would have you believe. It is, in fact, a simple robbery story with a hackneyed line. As a former magazine editor/writer and an avid reader of "spy" novels, among other genres, I learned that writers are born with a story-telling talent and the ability to put into print their yarns. This author has the talent to get a story legibly into print, but he needs to get a better handle on story and character development and have the dialog for each character easily identify said characters. The potential is there; it just has to be refined. Terseness counts more than lots of empty rhetoric (take a hint from the motion-picture industry); develop story lines that are both believable and interesting; ditto for characters and dialog; and please refrain from using high-falutin' words (and if you do resort such un-called-for urges, at least attempt to use them in correct grammar) that lend nothing to the story and have developing readers scrambling for a dictionary to look up their meanings. Don't use words just to show off your superior education and massage your ego; when you do this, it alienates your audience. Would I read another book by this author? Perhaps--but only if my (hopefully constructive) criticisms are addressed.
baba2 More than 1 year ago
As a life long 'ex-pat' with some familiarity with the CIA, the diplomatic service, Europe and overseas living, I was eagerly looking forward to reading this book. I was very disappointed. The plot was convoluted and unbelievable, the chronological presentation was unnecessarily confusing, and the characters were generally unlikeable. Although I did finish it, it was very easy for me to put this book down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I appreciate the amount of work that goes into writing a novel, and the description of this one sounded promising, but I must admit that I really did not care for this book. The major reason is that I found the characters to be extremely unlikable so I didn't care what happened to them. The situations seemed ridiculously contrived--and where is the local color? Simply setting a story in Brussels with no real reason/cultural background didn't improve the plot. And excitement?? Suspense?? Where?? There were a couple of places that piqued my curiosity, but none that had me on the edge of my chair waiting to see what would happen. Again, the most notable fault I saw in this novel was the one-dimensional, not very nice characters. It was impossible to feel genuine sympathy/empathy with their actions, including the protagonist, Kate. I'm disappointed that I actually paid $12.99 for the Nook version of something I will probably permanently erase, because I can't imagine wanting to read it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a woman character as written by a man with a poor sense of the female mind. And I'm not talking about frilly-girly stuff here, just the regular old business of being female. All he had to do was get some advice from some no-nonsense women and everything might have been okay. The female protagonist constantly behaves in ways that make no sense for a female. There are also some really glaring (and silly) mistakes regarding the whole ex-pat experience. If you are being paid enough to live in a 3-bed, 3-bath flat in Lichtenstein, you do NOT whine about having to clean 3 bathrooms. You hire a Frau, who comes in twice a week and does that sort of thing for you. There are loads of them around from the poorer EU countries like Slovenia and Portugal. Also, the reader is meant to believe that this couple loves one another oh-so-much (because we're constantly told that this is the case...) but they exhibit no real communication. They both lie through omission, sneak around, fool one another, are suspicious of the other one, and out and out lie. But in the end are still supposedly deeply in love and want to wander the earth together. This struck me as completely ridiculous. Marriages are both more and less complicated than the author portrays. I understand that he was trying to serve up a different sort of thriller about spies and spying, etc. But he continually falls into the worst pitfalls of thriller writers: wooden, unbelievable characters with little more than a wisp of personality. Interstingly enough, my own husband actually works in a subset of the same type electronic banking business that is the husband Dexter's career. Because of this, it made it hard to read because it was fairly obvious to me that Pavone was just making it up as he went along. He actually makes that clear at the end of the book, so I let him off the hook just a bit. But I will say this, if you think that financial institutions (including giant, international trading institutions) put as much effort into security as Chris Pavone portrays, you're sadly mistaken. And finally, I'm sick and tired of authors that ultimately let their characters make off with piles of stolen money simply because they didn't do something as "evil" as someone else. John Grisham was a champion at this early in his career, and it's time for this to stop happening. It's a total cop-out and a cheat and is disrespectful of readers' intelligence. I can't give it 2.5 stars, so I'm giving it 3. In spite of its faults it was still interesting enough that I might pick up Chris Pavone's next book, hoping for a more polished version of his talent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable read. Although I could put it down (reason for 4 rather than 5 stars), I found myself thinking about the story and anticipating the next time I could sit down and pick up where I had left off. Very well plotted and the lead female principal is well developed and believable. I would have no problem giving this book as a gift to friends. I look forward to the next book from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What started out as a predictable thriller quickly turned into a must read! Will there be another book, dare we say series. Get this book for your espionage collection!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As an ex-patriot living in Europe (albeit not an ex-spy) I thought this book would be a lot of fun to read. Instead, I found it completely implausible. First, the main character, Kate, is just not believable as an ex-CIA operative. She makes too many stupid mistakes during the story. Would an ex-CIA agent just give her car keys to someone she just met or use her home computer unmonitored? I think not. The final part of the book where is all is revealed was just flat out implausible to me. And of course, since I am actually an ex-patriot, some of the inaccuracies in the details were annoying. For example, there is a scene where the US embassy asks for a Luxembourg work permit. It is never explained why they even go to the embassy in the first place. I've worked in two different countries and the US embassy has never asked me for my local work permit. This plot point could easily have been accomplished by having the landlord ask for a residency permit which does happen in Europe. On the plus side, it is a fast read and some of the descriptions of ex-patriot life are pretty accurate, but I just couldn't get past the implausibility of the whole thing.
Alla_S More than 1 year ago
"The expats" by Chris Pavone follows Kate Moore, an ex-CIA spy who quits her job and moves to Luxembourg with her husband Dexter--who is forced to re-locate because of his job, which involves computer security for banks. While in Luxembourg, Kate befriends another ex-pat couple, designer Julia and her currency-trading, hunky husband Bill. As Kate makes a new life for herself and her sons in the gorgeous foreign land, she begins to suspect that her beautiful adventure has a secret side. For one, Dexter spends entire days away from her in his office--but won't name the company he's working for, nor the details of his job. As Kate's friendship blossoms, she begins to suspect that Julia is not who she says she is. Gradually, hers and Bill's friendship becomes too close for comfort. And to further complicate matters, Kate becomes terrified that her CIA past might be catching up with her. Throughout the book, Pavone jumps from the present to the future and there's some foreshadowing going on. But what I appreciated the most, is Pavone's beautiful descriptions of Western Europe (there's a lot of globe-hopping going on), tied in with the continuing suspense. I like suspenseful mysteries in exotic lands, and this book definitely held my interest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The only thing I didn't enjoy was how the timeline went back and forth, which confused me. A very good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story, but terribly organized as to time and place
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
Kate is an ex-spy adjusting to the normal life of a stay-at-home Mom in a foreign land, who finds herself caught up in a mystery. Unable to give up her roots, she can’t help but investigate what is really going on. Strong, intelligent, surprisingly trusting for someone who spent years as a spy, she winds up feeling betrayed, not trusting herself, and not always thinking straight when she finds that she is too close to the subject. Dexter is the perfect husband and father, until the move to Luxembourg. Suddenly he is a workaholic, rarely available to the children or his wife. The roles have shifted, after workaholic secret spy Kate gives up her career to follow her husband to Luxembourg, where he is taking on new work. And suddenly the father that used to be at home all of the time is rarely home and a distance falls between him and the family. Further rousing his wife’s suspicions are their new friends Bill and Julia, a husband and wife from Chicago. Julia quickly becomes Kate’s best friend in Luxembourg, but questions are aroused. This is one of those stories where you are continually asking yourself “what if” and “what would I do”. It shows the fine line drawn through moral delineation and ambiguity. Hear one side of a story and you may think someone is morally bankrupt. Hear more of the story, and maybe what they do is justified, but hear yet more and perhaps you question their motives once again. “Morality” and ethics are not black and white. While not gratuitous, there is some vulgarity, sexuality and adult situations and content. My final word: This was a fun, smart story. It kept me entertained and challenged. I continually wondered what would happen next, but it was really light and fun. A clever story of suspense laid out in a very easy-to-read fashion. Part psychological thriller, part escapism, part cautionary tale and part pure entertainment, this is a really fun story!
SuseNJ More than 1 year ago
Excellent, high-quality thriller. Unique plot, several big twists, unpredictable turns. Suspenseful and interesting. Yet quiet, subtle. Interesting use of chronology. Only for the intelligent reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though not all of the details were immediately clear, that is part of the charm (and maybe the intention?) of the book. This was a great story and I am eagerly anticipating the next by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I went with the endorsement of an author whose books I have enjoyed and hoped for better. I didn't really care much about the characters and found the story rather boring. I kept waiting for something to happen but it never really did. The jumping back and forth through time was confusing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this story. Moving between "then and now" makes this intriguing and keeps you interested.
shayrp76 More than 1 year ago
*This is an advanced readers copy* Kate Moore is an expat mom living in Luxembourg when she realizes that there are secrets surrounding her daily life. Hiding her own, possibly life threatening, secrets she easily recognizes those of others. When it becomes apparent that her family is under the watchful eyes of those she considers friends she decides to get to the bottom of it. What she discovers is a dangerous web of lies that could destroy the life she was trying to build with her family. Kate was a likable protagonist and she was convincing as a wife a mother. The plot is interesting and original in my experience with this genre. I don’t want to give too many negatives as the copy I read was not the final print, but I have a couple of complaints that may have been smoothed over. It read slowly for me and it didn’t grip my full attention. The transition from past to present wasn’t smooth and I had to go back and see which period I was reading numerous times. Overall I liked it and I will be on the lookout for future work from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book confirms my long-held belief that electronic financial transactions aren't secure. The narrative is at times compelling, and the writer's descriptive powers are formidable. But in my opinion, he creates more of a tale than he can possibly finish in a single book. And although the children are necessary to this particular intrigue, his treatment of them (and of their mother's responsibilities while alone with them) is simply implausible. Obviously he's never had to find a sitter in a strange country on very short notice! -- catwak
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once you get into the story, you will be hooked . I stayed up until midnight reading way past my bedtime. What a adventure . Daisy
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
This double award winning mystery really appealed to me because part of the mystery was concerned around what the mystery was actually about, up until the final sentences of this different story. Basically we have an American family living in Europe--THE EXPATS.  Kate is the mother of two young boys, but she's also an ex CIA operative involved in some high level and questionable murders.  Her husband, Dexter, is an IT security genius, who is also a high level thief.  Both are living lies as they settle in Luxembourg, set their boys up in school, make new friends amongst the other expats, and take small trips around Europe. Neither parent believes the other one is anything but your typical American.  Then they meet Julia and Bill, and things begin to be exposed between these four people who are not who they seem to be.  Julia and Bill are actually FBI pretending to be regular couple amongst other expats. The "illegal secrets" become mixed up with "family secrets".  Even one of the young boys gets caught up in this. How will things get revealed safely?  How will the CIA and FBI solve their mysteries?  Who is everyone "really" when everything is revealed?  Will everything finally get revealed in the end?  Will everything end safely? I definitely believe this book deserved it's awards because it was not like any other book I've ever read.  The plot was deftly driven by the characters and timing of the revelations. The personal and private lives of CIA, FBI, and families made for a very compelling story line.   This double award winning mystery really appealed to me because part of the mystery was concerned around what the mystery was actually about, up until the final sentences of this different story. Basically we have an American family living in Europe--THE EXPATS.  Kate is the mother of two young boys, but she's also an ex CIA operative involved in some high level and questionable murders.  Her husband, Dexter, is an IT security genius, who is also a high level thief.  Both are living lies as they settle in Luxembourg, set their boys up in school, make new friends amongst the other expats, and take small trips around Europe. Neither parent believes the other one is anything but your typical American.  Then they meet Julia and Bill, and things begin to be exposed between these four people who are not who they seem to be.  Julia and Bill are actually FBI pretending to be regular couple amongst other expats. The "illegal secrets" become mixed up with "family secrets".  Even one of the young boys gets caught up in this. How will things get revealed safely?  How will the CIA and FBI solve their mysteries?  Who is everyone "really" when everything is revealed?  Will everything finally get revealed in the end?  Will everything end safely? I definitely believe this book deserved it's awards because it was not like any other book I've ever read.  The plot was deftly driven by the characters and timing of the revelations. The personal and private lives of CIA, FBI, and families made for a very compelling story line.  This double award winning mystery really appealed to me because part of the mystery was concerned around what the mystery was actually about, up until the final sentences of this different story. Basically we have an American family living in Europe--THE EXPATS.  Kate is the mother of two young boys, but she's also an ex CIA operative involved in some high level and questionable murders.  Her husband, Dexter, is an IT security genius, who is also a high level thief.  Both are living lies as they settle in Luxembourg, set their boys up in school, make new friends amongst the other expats, and take small trips around Europe. Neither parent believes the other one is anything but your typical American.  Then they meet Julia and Bill, and things begin to be exposed between these four people who are not who they seem to be.  Julia and Bill are actually FBI pretending to be regular couple amongst other expats. The "illegal secrets" become mixed up with "family secrets".  Even one of the young boys gets caught up in this. How will things get revealed safely?  How will the CIA and FBI solve their mysteries?  Who is everyone "really" when everything is revealed?  Will everything finally get revealed in the end?  Will everything end safely? I definitely believe this book deserved it's awards because it was not like any other book I've ever read.  The plot was deftly driven by the characters and timing of the revelations. The personal and private lives of CIA, FBI, and families made for a very compelling story line.     
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book title and cover are misleading. It is flase advertising Because it is not a spy noval and not a suspense thiller. The plot was weak and the characters where not like any real People and not any one you like or want to be freinds with. The idea that a CIA agent could marry a man, have two children and live with him for 10 years and not know what he does for a living requires more than just suspenion of belief. I should have stopped reading at that point. The Ending was likewise unbelieveable and disapointing. Would not recomend this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book alot. I really enjoy spy stories, and this story had many twists that kept me wanting to see what would happen next. I also love reading about a strong heroine, and the lead character is very likable and resourceful! Read and enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The flashbacks were confusing as there was no indication that's what those passages were. First they moved to Luxembourg, then suddenly they were living in Paris. I was disappointed in this book.
kiriandketa More than 1 year ago
Taut, well-written thriller from beginning to end. Keeps you on your toes about where the story is going, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. A really terrific first novel from a new autor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked up the paperback recently while waiting to board a flight. I'm not one for the spy caper so I expected to choke it down in place of sleep and maybe leave it on the plane. Turns out I enjoyed it so much, i took my time in reading it just to savor it. Wonderful plot, imaginative characters. In fact, I loved it so much that when I left my paperback at home before work, I bought it again here so I could read it on my lunch hour!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I listened to this on audio book and so enjoyed all the twists and turns that I bought the book to enjoy again. Kate's husband, Dexter has announced that he has a chance of a lifetime opportunity to take a job in Europe. So Kate quits her job and they move with their two young children to Luxembourg. Dexter has provided few details of his new job, and yet, has good, logical reasons for keeping her in the dark. He's always been honest to the core. The story jumps back and forth between Kate's past and the present as she reveals secrets of her former occupation. She is suspicious of a couple who seem to be a little too friendly. Something about them seems off or is she just a little bored with her new life of mommy and housewife? Is Kate being paranoid or are there reasons for Kate to be suspicious? Can she ever really leave her past behind? Will her darkest secret come back to destroy her life? This book was very exciting and hard to put down. I hope Chris Pavone writes more!