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The Expats: A Novel
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Showing 1-10 of 67 reviews(1 star)show all reviews
59 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2012
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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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2012
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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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2012
The idea of this book was very interesting and I couldn't wait to get started. And I read it to the very end...and couldn't figure out why it had good reviews. There are multiple story lines occuring at the same time but with characters I didn't care about. It was not a plausible story, had very little detail to support the ideas and the author kept jumping around with story lines and tenses. It could have used a good editor, that was sorely lacking. I also felt the ending was rushed...perhaps a movie deal in the works? It was such a disappointment.
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38 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2012
The plot had the potential to be very interesting, but the writing is poorly organized and incredibly confusing. He jumps from time and place abruptly, leaving the reader guessing which scene is being played. All he needed was to put a city name and date stamp at the transition points to give the reader a clue that the setting has changed. Also, an abundant misuse of the comma makes the writing clumsy.

Why so many great reviews? His wife is a senior exec at Random House and former Amazon exec. Great marketing makes up for a mediocre product.
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40 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2012
I didn't like this book at all and I wonder why it has gotten such great reviews. It's annoying to say the least. Their are 3-4 scenarios taking place at the same time and the author consistently jumps from one scenario to the next leaving the reader confused. Often times I had to re-read prior pages just to make sure I comprehended what was going on. Kate and Dexter; Julia and Bill; Hayden; Torres; the CIA... Who cares? All the characters are never entirely developed, which is perhaps what the author intended, but as a reader it left you wondering who on earth these people were? Personally, I just didn't like his writing style and I was extremely frustrated by this book. The ending was a big disappointment too.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2014
How and why this novel won the 2013 Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Author is the greatest mystery of all. I have to wonder if the award was intended to be an insiders' joke on the reading public by the publishing industry. The recognition has to be based on Chris Pavone having once been an editor rather than on his mastery of storytelling and writing craft.

If the Edgar award had truly been based on a newbie's display of writing craft, then three of the other nominees: Black Fridays by Michael Sears, Don't Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman, and Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal would have surpassed The Expats by a significant margin. The writing craft and the storytelling of those three novels are so much better than The Expats that it doesn't seem fair including The Expats in the comparison. The only logical conclusion is that the Edgar award was based on the author's long-standing relationships within the publishing industry, and not because he wrote such a great novel... which unfortunately means the award wasn't a fair competition for the other finalists. You know the old saying, "It's who you know, not what you know."

I am the type of reader who will finish reading every book I begin reading, regardless of how bad it is or how disinterested I become. I started and finished four other novels, plus one non-fiction book, during the time period it took me to start and finish this one. I could only tolerate reading 3-5 pages at a time before story boredom and/or laborious writing drove me to the pages of another book. If I could, I would ask the author to reimburse the cost of this book.

As for some specifics: 1) Kate was not believable as a CIA field agent, unless incompetency is part of the job requirements. 2) The plot takes forever to develop. 3) The continuous stream of flashbacks is both tedious and distracting. 4) The author wastes the reader's time with endless and wordy descriptions of routine/mundane events. As example: "It was lightly drizzling, or misting, or whatever it's called when minuscule bits of water, too fine to feel distinct drops, are drifting down out of the sky." Twenty-eight words to communicate something everyone already knows, when "it was lightly drizzling" (just four words) would've done the job just as well, in fact: better. This overly wordy style can be found on almost every page. Do the math: this novel should've been (and easily could have been) a short story of less than 100 pages rather than a 352-page, word-heavy, novel-length short story. Like I said, I think this novel and the Edgar award it received was just a joke by the publishing industry being played on the reading public. 5) The author appears to own stock in "ly" adverbs and thus uses as many of them as he possibly can on each and every page. 6) My biggest complaint is that the writing draws attention to itself, rather than to the story.

Another example of poor craftsmanship: "Kate was taken aback by this excessive garrulousness." Huh? The meaning of garrulousness is "excessively talkative." Which means the author, in his desire to display his ability to overwrite, actually wrote: "Kate was taken aback by this excessive, excessive talking." It seems the author believes in the old axiom: "Why use just one word, when two will be overkill and make my writing come off as being literary?"

This is only the second time I have ever given a novel a 1-star rating. I read approx. 50-55 novels each year, plus another twenty or so non-fictions. Yes, it was that bad. I would not recommend this novel to anyone, not even to my worst enemy.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2012
This was one of the worst books I have read. It had great reviews and I can't figure out why. The characters were one dimensional and the plot was hard to follow with a story line which jumped back and forth. There were unnecessary descriptions and confusing time lines. Basically, the story about an ex-CIA agent and her computer savy husband was unbelievable. It was impossible to connect with the characters and in the end my only reaction was "who cares?" Don't waste your time or money on this one.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2014
How this got published is beyond me.....the complete opposite of a book "you can't put down"... I put this book down many times and seriously considered abandoning it (which I almost never do) The set-up surely had promise (a marriage built on a foundation of lies)...the author destroys it with his glacial pacing and ever-so-slow unfolding of his story. I kid you not....the plot and its various
twists and revelations don't even kick in until somewhere around page 255.....everything that precedes it makes you feel like you've been staring at an oil painting for eight hours. Pay no attention to the wildly over-rating reviews this book has received....it's the most mind-numbing, un-thrilling thriller I have ever had the misfortune to read. I know Chris Pavone has a new book out, also with positve reviews....but personally, based on "The Expats", someone would have to pay ME a load of money to read it.
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27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2012
What an awful piece of clumsy dreck. A fine example of the great NYC publishing marketing machine in motion. Congrats for that, but seriously? Sure, I was curious, having read all the blurbs. Wish I hadn't wasted my time. Expository and boring, with the last 50 pages still a hot mess. Blargh.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2012
Though there was some hope when this book started out, hope that extended more than half way into the book, after that point it became clear that the author had lost his way. In classic "I know my own book is ridiculous" writing fashion, the needed a chapter toward the end that explained everything. Instead of it being an "aha" spy book moment, it became a "huh?" moment. Very disappointing as this author does know how to write; he just doesn't know how to create a story.
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