Nancy Brisson's Reviews > The Expats

The Expats by Chris Pavone
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Aug 09, 2012

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Read in August, 2012

What’s going on at Cornell University? Everything, apparently. Cornell has been on my radar so many times lately and in fields as diverse as literature, ornithology, and endeavors in space. This time I just finished the first novel by a guy who grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from Cornell, Chris Pavone. The novel is called The Expats and it’s a doozy. It has spy action and it involves a complicated con game. It’s sort of Spy v. Spy and The Sting all rolled into one.

Kate and Dexter move from Washington, DC to Luxembourg because Dexter has a new job helping banks make their computers secure from hackers. Kate, who has worked as a CIA agent for years and who has kept this and many other facts from her husband, quits her job to move with him. Their marriage is intact, they have two great boys, but it is a suffering a bit from the number of secrets that these two are keeping from each other. How toxic are secrets in a relationship? I suppose it depends on the secrets. This is not the main point of the novel, but it’s there and it’s interesting to think about. Is absolute honesty required?

The book also deals with the issues involved in being an expat (the author did live in Luxembourg for a time) when you don’t know the language, and you have no feeling for the geography of the city you decide to live in, and you leave your support system, your friends and your family behind. It makes everything in your life harder to deal with but also new and exciting. Mr. Pavone doesn’t make living abroad seem easy, but he makes it tempting.

Kate starts having a lot of questions, especially with all this time on her hands, and all the housekeeping she is suddenly doing and all the times her husband is coming home late in the evenings and all of the traveling he is doing on weekends. Never give the mind of a woman who worked at the CIA time to wander or she will unearth your deepest darkest secrets.

Test yourself. Can you figure out this twisted tale before it is revealed in the final chapters?

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