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139 of 155 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love, Lies, Larceny, and Lechery in Luxembourg
Because of the information already included on the Amazon page for this product, it should not be a surprise to anyone that espionage plays a part in this novel, so I will admit without fear of giving spoilers that I have always loved novels related to espionage. However, I have never read one in which the protagonist was female, and espionage is not really the main...
Published on January 28, 2012 by Misanthrope™

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225 of 250 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tension and Puzzles Aplenty
If your thing in a spy thriller is tension aplenty with lots of secrets and puzzles, you will enjoy this book. Chris Pavone excels in the double-double cross and even makes you laugh at it. He is equally good at putting you right in the middle of whatever description he's got going. Europe has never been so conjured up for the reader's imagination. The plot is a good one,...
Published on February 4, 2012 by Zoeeagleeye


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225 of 250 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tension and Puzzles Aplenty, February 4, 2012
By 
Zoeeagleeye (Belfast, ME United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Expats: A Novel (Hardcover)
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If your thing in a spy thriller is tension aplenty with lots of secrets and puzzles, you will enjoy this book. Chris Pavone excels in the double-double cross and even makes you laugh at it. He is equally good at putting you right in the middle of whatever description he's got going. Europe has never been so conjured up for the reader's imagination. The plot is a good one, often curved around the unexpected, and it's a tiny bit implausible, but not so implausible it interferes with your intelligence.

Where Pavone falls into mediocrity is in the details. At times there are just too many of them. Other times they are half-presented, then dropped too soon. An example of too many is this entire paragraph: "There was a squat hard-plastic container of cardboard coasters featuring a baroque coat-of-arms, with a lion and pennants and maybe snakes and a sun and a crescent moon, and stripes, and a castle turret, plus gothic lettering that she couldn't make out because from where she sat it was upsidedown, this highly stylized thick black lettering." The description plays no part in the scene or the plot. Oh, the word "this" is Pavone's favorite, used far too many times.

As for a detail dropped too soon, the protagonist, Kate, sees some nuns, making her feel guilty, for what we know not.

Writes Pavone, "Kate was impressed with how many words this woman used to communicate her ideas." Funny, I was thinking the very same thing about the author!

The biggest problem for me is the character, Kate. She thinks like a man trying to think like a woman, and often it just doesn't work. The biggest failure is the relationship between Kate and Julia. They often relate more like two males would. Kate and Dexter also interact sort of by the numbers. In other words, intimacy is nonexistent.

The author wants to put Kate into predicaments and then think a way out for her but few women I know would have acted that way. Take when Dexter, her husband comes home from work and catches her before she can hide what she is doing. She lets him best her because she can't think of a way to keep him out of the kid's room. Really? Any woman worthy of the name would immediately make a cunningly directed play for her husband, redirecting his attention to sexy teasing. But our Kate, the hard-bitten CIA assassin merely crumples away from the room, giving her husband the upper hand.

Then there's the scene where she boldly hurls herself down an extremely dark, dangerous alleyway, allowing herself to be led to a hard-core "den of inequity," and without a blink of nerves, drops her clothes in front of the armed vicious, crazy bad guys (I don't think even an Angelina Jolie character would do this!), ends up getting what she wants and leaves with impunity. It was as if she swam naked and bloody into the middle of a shark fest and emerged untouched.

Conversely, why did the author put her in male writer's favorite women's position: nighttime, alone, vulnerable, stalked, chased. Yup, there's our Kate again, but this time she is in her own safe neighborhood, knows the layout, is wearing high heels walking toward home ... and she is scared! She worries about her shoes on cobblestones, as well. What! Again, any woman worthy of the name would simply remove the shoes and run, not do as Kate does, cringe with anxiety and then bop the wrong man -- which scene BTW has nothing to do with the plot. It is just in there for "fun." We never find out anything about either man; both disappear from the book.

Another example of her character being "off": here is a woman who LIVES secrets. Her husband doesn't know she is a spy. So what sort of game does she teach her children to amuse them? A spy game she makes up. I don't think so!

If you can get past the detailed minutiae, the inadequate and stiff sounding dialogue, and a main character who never quite comes together, you still have left the suspense, the mystery as it unravels, and several good observations -- such as, "People who were too outgoing made her suspicious. She couldn't help but presume that all the loud noise was created to hide quiet lies." Now that's the way a spy would think!
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139 of 155 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love, Lies, Larceny, and Lechery in Luxembourg, January 28, 2012
This review is from: The Expats: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Because of the information already included on the Amazon page for this product, it should not be a surprise to anyone that espionage plays a part in this novel, so I will admit without fear of giving spoilers that I have always loved novels related to espionage. However, I have never read one in which the protagonist was female, and espionage is not really the main story in this novel.

In keeping with my desire to not give spoilers, I will refrain from explaining character backgrounds and major plot points, at least with any specificity.

Kate, the protagonist, is married to Dexter, and they both have each other fooled, to very different extents, and in very different ways. They have a commitment to each other that transcends the deceptions, and both have very good reasons for their deceptions, though perhaps not reasons with which everyone will have sympathy.

The plot is one with many twists -- a veritable roller-coaster ride -- and takes the reader across various countries and continents, mundane and exotic. It also jumps back and forth in time enough to cause vertigo.

The only serious weak point of the novel, in my opinion, is that the author has the characters' actions mostly occur in their memories, rather than simply showing us all of the action as it occurs. A great deal of the story, action or back-story, is simply explained in dialogue, which is not ideal, but it is still quite interesting.

In my copy, it is stated that this book is "being developed for major theatrical release by CBS films." I think the story lends itself well to a movie version, and possibly will be even stronger as such, but there is little doubt that Pavone is a talented writer (a former editor and ghostwriter), and I expect to see much more of his work.

The strongest recommendation I can give for this novel is that if there were a sequel, I would read it.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could CIA agents be this dumb?, April 28, 2012
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This review is from: The Expats: A Novel (Hardcover)
I read the blurbs for The Expats and, expecting some fun, listened to the book on CD during a long trip. What a let down. I had to hear all the bad writing and silly plot elements that I might have overlooked had I been reading and able to skim. The main character, Kate, is former CIA, now a trailing spouse with a husband working in Luxembourg. She's the only CIA agent you ever heard of who, when surprised, stands there with her mouth hanging open. And when she tries to close it, she can't. She's THAT surprised!

Kate never told her husband, Dexter, about her CIA job, and for plot reasons she contemplates telling him now. But she figures, genius that she is, that if she tells him the basic fact of her former profession, she will have to tell him every tiny detail of her work, including an harrowing event she prefers to keep secret. Really? She can't imagine giving an outline of her days as an operative, then claiming the rest is classified? This is the clever CIA spook?

Kate also gives newcomers in her life open access in many ways that we yokels who never held a government clearance find strangely naive. Could our country really count on such simpletons?

The book was twice as long as it should have been, stuffed with filler such as "she grabbed the mouse and moved the cursor". I don't believe anything I've read has droned through that level of detail! Descriptions were terrible, such as "he had the skin of an old Shar Pei". As if the skin of a young Shar Pei was smooth!

The reader of the CD version, Mozhan Marno, was no help. She narrated the voice of all male characters in the same monotonous, low register, making every man sound identically stilted and robotic. And though her French accent was lovely, she mispronounced such words as trattoria, rifled, Copenhagen, and eschew. (I am currently listening to Mark Twain: A Life by Ron Powers, read by the author. The contrast is striking. Powers has the added problem of letting you know when he's quoting. He shifts his voice slightly, and uses a countried accent for Twain, so its always clear. Perhaps he should teach a class.)

The excellent blurbs quoted above show that connections are all, when it comes to publicity. Chris Pavone, a former editor with contacts in the book biz, has been given praise by his friends in spite of his mediocre writing.
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58 of 72 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Bad Read, March 27, 2012
By 
M. J Shulman (Chevy Chase, MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Expats: A Novel (Hardcover)
I am in the financial industry and looked forward to another author creating mysteries related to the industry. I was terribly disappointed and forced myself to finish the book -- something I rarely have to do. The plot and outcomes are obvious; the depiction of banks and the world of money is so far removed from reality I could not suspend disbelief when reading the book; and the author's constant placement of his own voice, masked as the thoughts of the protagonist, was downright annoying. I myself have written a book, I am very respectful of new authors but the bottom line is stay away, a poorly written book all the way around.
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53 of 66 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Disappointment, March 25, 2012
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Cogito Ergo Sum (Carefree, AZ USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Expats: A Novel (Hardcover)
After reading many gushing reviews extolling the bountifulness of this tome and a starred review in Pub. Weekly, I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book. What a disappointment! With slow and plodding writing, the main character, Kate, comes across as a bit of a dullard. She's allegedly an ex-CIA top-line spy and assassin. If she's indicative of the caliber of folks who populate the ranks of America's CIA, then God help us all. And her dim-witted investigation into her husband's behavior was quite childish. Not to mention that her suspicions about her husband were more like a contrivance, as her husband's behavior didn't come across as very suspicious at all. The publicist/marketing activities for this book were clearly an accomplishment far better than the book itself. Makes one wonder about reviewers in Pub. Weekly and about those who deliver 5-starred accolades on Amazon for tripe like this (maybe all submitted via pseudonyms by the publisher?). Save your money. This is an over-hyped piece of dreck.

Fred G.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "She needed to dig deeper.", January 31, 2012
This review is from: The Expats: A Novel (Hardcover)
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In Chris Pavone's "The Expats," Kate Moore is stunned when her husband, Dexter, announces that they are moving from Washington, D. C. to Luxembourg, "the private banking capital of the world." Dexter is a "computer nerd," a security expert who finds and plugs breaches in banks' computer systems. Dexter assures Kate that the move abroad will entail a sizeable increase in income. In addition, their two sons, Jake and Ben, are young enough (five and four) to adapt to a big change. Kate quits her job and joins the members of the expat community living the good life in Europe.

Before long, Kate suspects that something is wrong. Dexter is away far too often, and he is deliberately vague about his actions. In addition, two other ex-pats, Julia and Ben Maclean, arouse Kate's suspicions. They seem to be monitoring her movements; she wonders what they are up to. Kate contacts a former colleague, starts snooping around, and learns that all is not as it seems.

Pavone nicely depicts how unsettling it is to be uprooted from one's familiar surroundings. His fine descriptive writing (including lovely snapshots of scenic European locales) and clever dialogue are effective and engaging. However, Kate's character presents a problem. She has supposedly spent many years conducting covert, hazardous, and violent missions, one of which ended in disaster. However, Kate comes across as an anxious and harried housewife as well as a clumsy sleuth. This does not square with the persona of a daring individual who has, for the most part, handled thorny situations with aplomb. Kate claims to love Dexter's earnestness and his "un-ironic, un-arch, un-bored, un-cool, [and ] un-studied" personality, but the two consistently lie to one another.

The tone of the novel is off, as well. It's not a thriller, since there are few thrills. It's not a domestic drama, since there is little drama. "The Expats" is, at best, a puzzle in which the reader knows what Kate is up to, but does not understand the big picture until Pavone offers a lengthy and far-fetched explanation. It would have helped if Kate and Dexter were more three-dimensional and if the novel contained more action and excitement. As it stands, "The Expats" is a mildly entertaining but implausible caper involving layers upon layers of deception.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ex Misses Its Mark, March 19, 2012
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The writing style of this offering is not great. Kate (the central chacter) feels, Kate thinks, Kate recalls, and that's the way most of the story is told. You'd think with so much Kate-centrism, the reader would get a good sense of who Kate is and what she's about. That didn't really happen for me. Or perhaps it's just that I never came to share the author's plain admiration for his character.

The basic story is a good one, but it's not well told. The chapters and demi-chapters jump back and forth in time and locale well beyond the point of distraction. The pages of this manuscript must have been dropped on the editing room floor, and been haphazardly re-assembled as they were rushed off to the printer.

The secondary characters lack definttion. I understand why Kate views them in different lights through the course of the story which is, in essence, a story that raises the question of "Who can you trust?". But since Kate trusts no one, it's hard to feel much as she faces betrayals.

I feel I deserved something for reading this book to the end. And I certainly believe that the ending didn't deliver. I can't recommend this novel.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not believable; Kate could not be a CIA operative, May 3, 2012
This review is from: The Expats: A Novel (Hardcover)
I listened to this on CD in my car and found myself being lulled into sleep, a dangerous place when you're driving. Although Mozhan Marno's professional voice tries her best to read the novel as inhabiting the characters, the novel never comes alive. I'm with everyone of the one and two-star reviews: the characters aren't believable, the story takes too long to develop, and I cannot believe that Kate was ever CIA or killed anyone. I actually was shouting at the CD. "NO way!" She relentlessly folds clothes and meanders around. The mysterious couple they befriend? Come on! If Kate were CIA, she would know they're not who they say they are, even before she does research on them.
Sorry to those who say Pavone is a good writer. Most of this tells episodes in flashback, then the action scenes are dull, the dialogue "on-the-nose."
I noticed that one of the reviews states that Pavone is married to an editor at a publishing house?
And please don't compare him to Le Carré.
Another good marketing job, selling exotic locales.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chris Pavone! A New Star in Espionage Genre!, February 13, 2012
This review is from: The Expats: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Although this is Chris Pavone's debut novel, it was enthralling and kept me flipping pages well into the night as the layers of deceit from numerous sources unravel in this mesmerizing espionage thriller.

A descriptive writer and outstanding storyteller, Pavone kept me guessing who the bad guys and good guys were. There are more twists and turns in this adventure that any rollercoaster that I have ever ridden.

For 15 years, Kate Moore has led a secret life. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her computer geek husband, Dexter, and her two young children. They have no idea that she is a Central Intelligence Agent. Dexter is involved in some kind of computer security employment that she does not understand other than he travels a lot and they struggle to make ends meet.

As the years have passed and her family has begun to grow, she has become less comfortable with the dangers she encounters and is haunted by her actions. When Dexter tells her of an opportunity to move to Europe in the quaint town of Luxembourg and the promise of financial success for her husband, she resigns from the CIA.

Enter Julia and Ben Maclean, two expats who become increasingly nosy, inappropriate and uncomfortable to be around in her new surroundings. Who are they? What do they want? Are they dangerous?

These questions and more are answered as Kate uses her special skills to unveil their identity in an effort to protect herself and family from clandestine characters.

The Expats is a quick 326-page easy read that is an entertaining and enjoyable novel by and up-and-coming breath of fresh air in espionage genre.

Enjoy!
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars boring and contrived, April 26, 2012
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This review is from: The Expats: A Novel (Hardcover)
This book was very slow developing and boring. The author spent the first half of the book talking about life for rich moms in Luxembourg. Any suspense the book had took place in the protagonist's earlier life or was based on bogus-feeling suspicions that all happen to be true and confirmed by a very convenient character who does all the leg-work and seems to have all the answers from start to finish. In short, this book was extremely boring and contrived
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The Expats: A Novel
The Expats: A Novel by Chris Pavone (Hardcover - March 6, 2012)
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