Kate Moore has a secret - she's worked for the CIA since she left college. Along the way, she decided she wanted a family and married Dexter. Nice, safe, comfortable Dexter - of course she fully investigated him. And they've been blessed with two little boys. When Dexter gets a job offer in Luxembourg as a banking security specialist, Kate decides it's finally time to quit and just be a mom and wife. But can one really ever leave that kind of life behind? Will the past let you quit? And is your husband really who you thought he was?
Kate joins the ranks of the expats in Luxembourg, trying to learn the language, navigate a new country and deal with the loneliness - Dexter's job keeps is keeping him away from home more and more. For a male writer, I thought Pavone nailed Kate's emotions - the boredom, the frustration, the loneliness, the uncertainty that she's made the right choice. But old habits die hard and Kate finds herself second guessing everyone she comes into contact with.
Secrets is the name of the game here - everyone has them and the winner is the one who can figure them out first. Pavone certainly keeps the reader on their toes. He's chosen to tell the story in two narratives - past and present. Different typefaces help us distinguish which is which, but I will admit that I had difficulty in the beginning. In the present day narratives, we (mostly) know what has happened. Switching back to the past, we know more that Kate does as she tries to figure things out. But we still don't know it all - Pavone provides lots of twists to keep the story moving.
I enjoyed having a woman as a protagonist in a 'spy' novel and I liked Kate as a character. There were a few times when an obvious clue seemed to elude her that I thought was out of character, but this is a minor complaint.
The Ex-Pats was an excellent cat and mouse game, with the roles changing constantly between four main players. I can see this as a movie. Read an excerpt of The Ex-Pats.
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Pavone himself has lived in Luxembourg and I think this added an extra level of authenticity to his settings and descriptions of both this country and others nearby.
Wondering how the book came to be? Check out this feature from Crown Publishing. You can find Chris Pavone on Facebook.
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