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3.8 out of 5 stars1,242
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 31 October 2012
This is not a bad book & the premise is Ok. My main criticism is that the flitting back and forth between Paris and Luxembourg is unnecessary & actually just detracts from the main plot as you have to keep checking where you are in the story - especially if you have to put the book down for more than 2 minutes! Also, I thought that Kate came across as more desperate housewife than CIA stalwart. Overall, I did enjoy the storyline - but it could have been a hell of a lot better.
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From an uncorrected proof copy
The Expats is the impressive debut novel by American author, Chris Pavone. Set mainly in Europe, the action switches between Paris in the present day and Washington DC and Luxembourg two years previously. Kate Moore quit her undercover job with the CIA, a job that was secret even from her husband, Dexter, to move to Luxembourg with him and their young sons, Jake and Ben. There, Dexter's job as a systems security expert for banks could afford them a better income and an enviable lifestyle which included weekends in places like Paris and Amsterdam. As expats, they socialised mainly with other expats, and had soon formed a friendship with Julia and Bill Maclean. But Kate's CIA training leads her to suspect that Julia and Bill are not what they first seem and she begins to wonder: are they are assassins? Are they investigating her for unlawful actions in her CIA career? Or are they after her husband? Which leads her to start wondering if Dexter has been completely truthful with her. As Kate makes certain discoveries in the present day narrative, she flashes back to two years ago, her exit from the CIA and their early months in Luxembourg, and certain events and conversations suddenly become startlingly clear.
This novel has a superbly clever plot full of twists and turns that has the reader guessing to the last line. Without giving away too much of the story, Pavone uses the present day narrative to sow enough seeds of intrigue to keep the reader engrossed in the action two years previous. Interestingly, Pavone writes from Kate's point of view, something he does very competently. As the suspense built, I found myself more and more on the edge of my seat. Proof of Pavone's excellent descriptive talent is that as I sat reading the window ledge scene, my legs were aching, my body's usual involuntary reaction to being at unsafe heights. Occasional lighter moments are provided by the children and social interactions with other minor characters, but for most of the novel, the tension is high. Pavone's first-hand experience as an expat is apparent from the way he effectively conveys the atmosphere of European cities and expat life: his characters are realistic and his dialogue, credible. The novel poses a few pertinent and topical questions: When is it OK to steal 25 (or 50) million euros? Are we deluded in thinking that our money can ever be safe? Who guards the guards? Is anybody ever what they seem to be? Does anyone ever tell the whole truth? This novel has been described as "Brilliant, insanely clever, and delectably readable." I wholly concur.
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on 1 October 2012
I enjoyed reading this story and would have given it 5 stars but I did not appreciate the confusing time-hopping between chapters. I don't think this added anything to the plot and I think a linear approach would have worked well. Having said that, the characters and story line are well drawn and I particularly liked the descriptions of Luxembourg, a city I know well. Excellent value for money.
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on 26 September 2012
This Book was hugely enjoyable. The plot moved at a high pace as it should in this genre from time to place to revelation but always aware of the life routines of a woman who has chosen a motherly role and also showing a delightful awareness of the behavior of young children. Hopefully she will have forgotten her skills with a Beretta by the time that they are teenagers.

The dénouement unfolds in layer upon layer such that it would earn full prize as an onion at any country show. It is such a pleasure to read such a well written book. I have never heard of this writer before but will seek him/her out for more.
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on 15 October 2012
I thought I was in a sort of chick-lit comic genre at first, though the cover suggests quite a grown-up thriller. The narrative technique of fracturing shards of time into present, flashback and flashback-within-a-flashback is no doubt meant to be televisual and exciting. In fact it's tiresome and soon ceases to matter. The tone soon becomes less frothy and there is a good psychological thriller here. The protagonist, Kate, uncovers many layers of deception and the plot begins to twist and turn with real cleverness. You won't care for the characters, but if you get past the first third or so, you will find it riveting (-ish).
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on 17 December 2012
Our heroine here is Kate, an ex CIA field agent, mother to two small boys and wife of nerdy husband Dexter, who works in bank security.

The book begins with Dexter persuading Kate to move to Luxembourg in order for him to follow a job opportunity in a private bank. This in itself seems unlikely of Dexter from the unambitious, nerdy background of him that's been painted for us. Dexter is also blissfully unaware of Kate's CIA life, which again seems rather far fetched.

When she agrees to the move, Kate quits her CIA job, which has recently been office based anyway, and becomes a full time stay at home mum, doing the socialite rounds with all the other expat mums in a foreign city. This part of the book dragged considerably for me, and
merely helped to reinforce the thought that Kate could never have had what it would take to be a CIA field agent.

After a while, maybe because of her CIA training or maybe paranoia about unauthorised activities during her CIA days catching up with her, Kate begins to suspect that all is not quite what it seems in her new life. Dexter is constantly away, and refuses to tell her anything about his work. Their closest friends, the Macleans, an expat couple like themselves, also seem to not be what they are trying to portray themselves as.

Kate begins to investigate and uncovers an incredibly convoluted plot, that couldn't possibly have any basis in reality, but at least this part of the book has more pace than the first half, as the intrigues based on intrigues are unravelled.

The wild time shift jumpings from present day, to past, and then further back to CIA past and beyond were often confusing. The plot was surreally convoluted and far fetched, with layer upon layer of deception that didn't allow the possibility of me working much out for
myself as I went along and necessitated a big 'reveal all' scene at the end to fill me in on what I'd 'missed'. Kate was not believable as a CIA field agent, Dexter was not believable in his part of the plot either and the plot itself relied on far too much coincidence of things going just as planned.

I'm sounding quite negative now, but in reality, if you like intrigue and convoluted, fantastical plots, this book holds your interest well enough once it eventually picks up pace in the second half. An ok read overall.
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on 21 March 2012
I found The Expats unputdownable. Chris Pavone has created a superb portrayal of a successful career woman who follows her husband away from job and career. Kate, though, is ex-CIA, and not just any old CIA employee, but an ex 'wet' operator, who goes through the difficult transition from professional to Mummy that so many of us have gone through - but nothing can take the CIA operative out of this stay-at-home mother. We follow her suspicions and her acute observations throughout the unfolding of the story as the tension increases chapter by chapter, all set in the context of a loving home with husband and two good little kids. And we agonise with her about some of her former activities. Pavone keeps us on the edge of our seats as the story switches back and forth in time, with questions being asked and answers appearing at different times and in various circumstances.

And I liked the ending. This is a book that has stayed with me - the characters and the plot. On thinking back, the characters are consistent and believable, something I can't say about many thrillers. Definitely to be recommended.
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on 3 November 2012
In the end, this is The Expats is actually a good read but as has been said previously, it would be easy to give up on it for a number of reasons.
Myself being a once ive started I will finish sort of person battled on and in the end can say for certain that its a book worth reading and I can in the end understand why the book is written in such a way that it goes back and forth in time.
If you havent got any patience, dont bother even trying to read this because you will lose the will to live or be tempted to skip bits.
All the characters are very believable and Kate is a really well written character.
The descriptions of all the places in Eusrope visited are very accurate and having red the book whilst on a trip to Amsterdam, I felt the autor had just seen exactly what I had.
There are a number of small episodes that I didnt really know why they were there and didnt appear to benifit the book in anyway and the whole going back and forth in time especially early on can be very tedious.
I suppose the clever thing about it is that you have to read til the end before you understand why parts of the story was in the place it was in the book.
All in all, this is a good effort and I would definately read further books by this author.
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on 20 January 2013
Rather confusingly told. The plot is good. Characters almost believable but the flitting between times of the story not always clear and the main character, Kate,is not totally likable.
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on 12 November 2012
I found the way the story was written to be confusing. I often wasn't sure whether I was in the present or past or what country. I didn't enjoy the jumping back and forward in time.
I thought that the character of Kate Moore to be woolly and unbelieveable. She is on the one hand an undercover CIA operative capable of murder but she is not capable of detecting her 'levelled headed' husband Dexter is behaving differently and obviously keeping secrets from her. He moves his family to Europe quickly and she dutifully follows.She makes friends with other 'expats' but all the persons portrayed lack any depth or feeling.None of the characters are 'strong' and you can't visualise them. There is not enough descpription of their feelings and emotions and you can't immerse yourself in their life and feel what they are going through.
I think it could have been a clever book if it had maybe stuck to the story surrounding Kates' last undercover mission and the repercussions to her life.I think that to create this completely other story about Dexter and cyber crime and his brother was not credible and it lost my interest. Sorry.
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