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The Expats: A Novel Hardcover – March 6, 2012

3.6 out of 5 stars 898 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A Reader’s Guide for The Expats, A Novel

By Chris Pavone

In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal important aspects of the plot of this novel. If you have not finished reading The Expats, we respectfully suggest that you wait before reviewing this guide.


Hailed by Patricia Cornwell as “bristling with suspense” and praised by John Grisham as reminiscent of early novels by Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, and Robert Ludlum, The Expats garnered coast-to-coast acclaim, marking the debut of an unforgettable new voice in American fiction.

An international thriller, The Expats is the story of a seemingly ordinary working mom, Kate Moore, whose husband, Dexter, is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg—a move that will unravel everything they believed about each other. Kate and Dexter have struggled to make ends meet, so they jump at the chance to start a new life abroad with the promise of rich rewards. But Kate has been leading a double life, and leaving America forces her to abandon her dangerous but heroic job. She soon discovers that it will be harder than she thought to shed her past, especially while coping with the weight of an unbearable secret. Dexter seems to be keeping secrets of his own, working long hours for a banking client whose name he can’t reveal. When another American couple befriends them, Kate begins to peel back the layers of deception that surround her, revealing a heart-stopping con that threatens her family, her marriage, and her life.

Sophisticated and expertly crafted, The Expats is set in some of Europe’s most enchanting locales, and races toward a provocative, startling conclusion. We hope this guide will enhance your experience of the pulse-pounding journey.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. How does Kate’s sense of self shift throughout the novel? In the end, how does she reconcile the roles of wife, mom, and adrenaline-seeking agent?

2. In chapter ten, on page ninety-three, Kate thinks about crossing an unspoken line that exists in many marriages: “You know the lines are there, you feel them: the things you don’t discuss. . . . You go about your business, as far away from these lines as possible, pretending they’re not there.” To what degree did Kate and Dexter deceive themselves, as much as they deceived each other? Is complete honesty realistic for most married couples?

3. After working hard to keep her own career a secret from Dexter, why is it hard for Kate to accept his secrecy about his job? Was she setting a double standard or just responding to her well-honed instincts?

4. What were your initial theories about Julia and Bill, and the “Today” scenes?

5. Kate was well suited to her job when she led a solitary life. What did the CIA give her in lieu of love? As she realizes that Dexter and her family are all she has, how does her understanding of love change?

6. What is Hayden’s role in Kate’s life? Do you have a Hayden to rely on?

7. How do Kate and Dexter feel about the power of breadwinners in a marriage? What does their story say about resenting a spouse who doesn’t seem to be contributing (Dexter in America) versus resenting a spouse who seems to be a workaholic (Dexter in Luxembourg)? In the end, which of the novel’s characters prove to be the most materialistic?

8. Kate is haunted by the Torres episode. How did this continue to define her decision making and actions years later? If you were ever in a situation like this, how far would you go to protect your family?

9. Dexter often cites human gullibility as a weakness in I.T. security. Discuss the characters who let their guard down for love, vanity, sex, wealth, or other lures. What ultimately makes Dexter gullible? Does his gullibility make him blameless?

10. As the plot began to unfold, which revelations surprised you the most? What truth was buried beneath the layers of deception?

11. The Expats delivers a highly realistic portrayal of female agents, motherhood, and strong women who outsmart men. What is the effect of knowing that the book was written by a man?

12. Does it matter that the Colonel was bloodthirsty? Do the ends justify the means?

13. What does the novel say about trust and how it is earned? What do Kate and Dexter discover about the strength of their trust for each other?

14. Discuss the life of expatriates in general—a role the author experienced when his wife accepted a job in Luxembourg. If you were to live abroad, where would you want to set up housekeeping? How do expats balance the fact that they’re foreigners with the need to feel at home? Would you enjoy close-knit communities of expat spouses, or would the lack of privacy be hard to handle?

--This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.


"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 (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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307956350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307956354
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (898 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #488,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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