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Cover image from goodreads.com

Can we ever escape our secrets?

In the cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg, Kate Moore’s days are filled with playdates and coffee mornings, her weekends spent in Paris and skiing in the Alps. But Kate is also guarding a tremendous, life-defining secret — one that’s become so unbearable that it begins to unravel her newly established expat life. She suspects that another American couple are not who they claim to be; he husband is acting suspiciously; and as she travels around Europe, she finds herself looking over her shoulder, increasingly terrified that her own past is catching up with her. As Kate begins to dig, to uncover the secrets of the people around her, she finds herself buried in layers of deceit so thick they threaten her family, her marriage, and her life.

(Novel synopsis from back cover of Broadway Paperbacks 2012 edition)

I know that it has been about a month since my last blog post, but it took me almost that long to read the latest novel to blog about. Chris Pavone’s The Expats was the November choice for my Pi Beta Phi book club. While I absolutely loved the premise of Pavone’s novel, I had a hard time relating to Kate’s character. There would be some moments where I could see her and understand her, and then she would do something that I just could not connect with.

Without giving anything away about the storyline, Kate is an ex-CIA agent who has moved with her family to Luxembourg to start a new life built around her husband’s job in banking. In Kate’s career there was especially one incident that she would love to leave behind her, but the memory of it seems to be chasing her as she tries to build a new life with her husband and two young sons. However, it turns out that Kate isn’t the only one living in Luxembourg who is hiding a secret…

As I mentioned, there were many moments where The Expats lived up to it’s potential, and then there were many others where the story became entirely too predictable. Adding to the difficulty (for me) to become fully immersed in the story was the constant changing of time. Part of the story took place “today” and much more of the story took place in the past. While the perspective was always Kate’s, the most obvious change in time was through a slight change in font used to tell the story. This alone did not prevent the story from being disjointed in its flow. There were other instances where the story would break apart and jump days or locations unexpectedly.

I was also left unsatisfied with the ending of the story, but who knows, it could be because Pavone has plans to continue Kate’s story in the future. One thing I did notice after visiting his website, is that Pavone has created a new novel using one of Kate’s contacts from The Expats. I am interested to see if Pavone’s next novel (The Accident) is able to intrigue me a little bit more as I was left slightly underwhelmed with The Expats.

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