Linton Lewis's Reviews > The Expats

The Expats by Chris Pavone
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Apr 17, 12

Read in April, 2012

~As Kemosabe’s World Turns~

Just finished another disappointing novel, THE EXPATS by Chris Pavone, 2 stars. It started off with hope about a female CIA employee whose husband lures her to quit her job and move with their two boys to Luxembourg. I should have known when the rave reviews were all from novelists [actually in a backhanded way of plugging their own work] instead of professional reviewers. And the wife blindly following her guy who is keeping secrete from her for whom he works. The scenes are discombobulated so much that it was very distracting trying to know in what year or time or sequence it was taking place. Saying all that, this piece stole a piece of my heart.

She realized, even at the time, that this might have been an act of willful ignorance about her husband; she may have conspired to deceive herself, all those years.
“Ben,” she said, flagging down her youngest as he ran on his way to emergency-play.
“What?”
“Come here.” She opened her arms, and the boy leaned in, wrapped his wiry arms around her thighs. “I love you,” she said.
“Me too Mommy but I have to go now so bye-bye I love you bye-bye,”
It may have been self-deception. But it was what she needed, to get this.

The book is filled with the protagonist’s anguishes of not telling her husband of her CIA past and beating herself up for not trusting him and starting to investigate him. Many many many scenes of traveling, meals in restaurants with servers interrupting dialogue which is one of my pet peeves. Someone once taught this as enhancing dramatic effect which it almost always doesn’t. Another irritating bit of craft of Mr. Pavone’s is having another character interrupt another with dumb questions in order to break up the speech. It goes from bad to worse when the wife, a murderer, justifies her husband’s theft only because his victim was a bad guy.
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