I apologize that this is the 2nd book review in a week. I can tell you going forward you probably won’t see two grouped so close together. However, last week we were on vacation and so I was able to start and finish two books.
The Expats is Chris Pavone’s debut novel. The story is told from Kate Moore’s perspective. The story starts out with Kate and her husband Dexter in the kitchen. They live in Washington, D.C. and are what I refer to as the “working poor”. Dexter tells Kate that he has been offered the job opportunity of a life-time, but they are going to need to move to Luxembourg. Kate who is ready to step away from her current job, which is kept under wraps until considerably later in the story, says Okay. With that Kate and Dexter pack up all of their DC belongings, and their two children, to move across the Ocean to Europe.
When they get to Europe Kate realizes that her husband’s job is entailing more work than he lead her to believe and she ends up befriending another Expat wife, Julia. As Kate and Julia begin to become friends Kate notices some odd behavior from Julia and eventually comes to learn that Julia is actually an undercover agent for the FBI. More than that, they are after her husband! I won’t reveal more of the plot than that. That should be enough to let you know whether you want to read it or not.
When I first finished this book I gave it a four star review on Goodreads. After I sat with it a bit more, I decided that this is definitely a three star novel (which is actually about what is ranking on Amazon and Goodreads). I liked that the plot was something original. I don’t read very many spy novels, so this was a new concept to me. I liked the general story line. I found the characters relatable, and human feeling (not like some contrived person). However, I didn’t like how Pavone paced the story. The story alternates from telling a story of Kate’s past (five or so years previous to the story’s beginning), to the “present day”, and about 18 months into the “future”. By the end of the book the “present day” and “future” have aligned. Either way, I wasn’t a big fan of that structure. I also didn’t always appreciate the detail that Pavone wrote into the story. I felt like sometimes his plot was overly complex, edging on confusing. At other times though, it felt like he didn’t feel like “really” explaining how something happened, so he just glazed over it completely.
Overall I think this book was written very well. The author used appropriate vocabulary (some times I get upset when authors never use ‘big’ or ‘unique’ words). I think the overall story line was unique, and I liked the story overall. I just think maybe the book could have used another round of editing. Or maybe, more than that, the book should have been sent out to a test audience for their feedback. Reading some of the other reviews I get the feeling that the same things are bothering everyone, so if Pavone had used a test audience he may have been able to adjust the story to appeal to the audience more.
What are your thoughts? Are you interested in this book? Have you already ready it? Do you have any other spy novel recommendations? I would love to hear them!