The basics: The Expats is the story of Kate Moore, a D.C. policy analyst whose husband Dexter receives a compelling job opportunity in Luxembourg. Kate and Dexter, along with their two young boys, soon make the move to Luxembourg, where Kate joins the thriving expat community for morning coffee, but all is not what it seems in this spy novel.
My thoughts: Please ignore the basics of this book. It was quite challenging to remember what I thought was the setup early on in this novel, and I think it's most exciting to read without the knowledge of some of its secrets. Pavone has his characters start spilling secrets very early on, and the twists keep coming throughout the novel. It's clear from the beginning that The Expats is a spy novel. What isn't clear initially is who the spy is (or who the spies are.) The characters weave a complicated collection of secrets and lies, and I enjoyed every single reveal. Some I correctly guessed before the characters, but many left me surprised.
Audio thoughts: Mozhan Marno's narration was quite good. She conveyed the many complicated emotions of Kate beautifully, and she expertly added in pauses I doubt I would have had the patience for if I read in print. The audio is a little long for a book of that length, but Marno's pacing escalated the tension is this addictive thriller. Some listeners might have trouble keeping the two timelines straight, as the action jumps back and forth between the present day and the flashbacks without obvious audio markers, but I didn't have a problem with it thanks to Pavone's attention to detail.
Favorite passage: "The joke, like most of his kisses, had become perfunctory."
The verdict: The Expats is a smart, twisty thrill ride of an adventure across Europe. Like Kate, the reader never quite knows who or what to trust. The Expats is also a surprisingly thoughtful exploration of marriage and love. That Pavone managed both in his first novel is even more exciting.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 12 hours 27 minutes (338 pages)
Publication date: March 6, 2012
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Expats from Amazon (Kindle edition.)
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