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3.8 out of 5 stars
1,277
3.8 out of 5 stars
The Expats
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on 15 August 2017
The premise of this book was good and it certainly had a fast-moving plot, keeping the suspense well paced with lots of twists and turns. However, I found the author’s switching between Luxembourg and Paris extremely confusing – I was never sure where the characters were – and was it really necessary, other than trying to convince the reader that he knows Europe well?
I didn’t find the main character, Kate, very plausible as an ex-CIA operative because she just didn’t seem to have what it takes in all the machinations of intrigue, within the fairly convoluted plot of the story. That said, the book held my interest and I did like the author’s writing style, which is why I've given it 4 stars instead of 3....
Nice (and unexpected) twist to the story at the end. ☺
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on 30 December 2012
Like many a debut novel, The Expats is not without its flaws. It gets off to a slow start, so slow in fact that had I not got this for 20p on Kindle, I may well have given up.

As a serial expat myself and someone who has worked helping other expats readjust to their new life, Kate comes across as a relocation consultant's worst nightmare - a whiny, trailing spouse with way too much time on her hands.
I found the characters very unlikeable and I couldn't understand why Kate just didn't call it a day with Dexter, children or no children. Theirs is a loveless marriage so what was she doing playing along with the move to Europe for so long? Julia and Bill come across as two-dimensional and I don't really care what happens to them.

If you can stick with it and suspend your disbelief, in the end the book does have something useful to say about marriage and relationships - that we all hide secrets from each other.
The action and pace picks up in the second half and it becomes a tightly plotted (if somewhat implausible) read.

There's an over reliance on character exposition in last part of the book which is a little irritating but given the complex nature of the plot may be the only way that readers of commercial fiction will understand what it is that is supposed to have gone on.

The Expats has been skilfully marketed and managed to gain an impressive number of press reviews, some of which raved about it. The most accurate to my mind was the one written in The Washington Post which calls it "a sometimes silly spy tale."
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on 6 November 2012
Great read. I feel the flashbacks added to the story, feeding you important backstory while keeping you turning the pages with revealing bits of what's to come. Basically there's three main time streams; today in Paris which is where the final scenes are played slowly in time stamped paragraphs throughout the book; there is the preceeding two years that lead up to this day in Paris which form the bulk of the narrative; then there are flashbacks to Kate's CIA work. It can occasionally get confusing but not in a way that ruins the story and mostly you don't need to know exactly when things happen to 'get it'. The plot is complex and well thought through with no obvious plot holes although there are a few times you have to suspend belief, not least with the comic book mom/CIA agent dilemma. As a mom I did struggle with Kate's parenting, one minute her children are super important and the next they are nowhere to be seen, presumably looked after by an unknown sitter while important stuff goes down. Equally the amount of stuff she gets done in the 6 hours her kids are at school is a tad unbelieveable. However without the mom/CIA agent hook it is just another story of spouses with secrets and lies and I admit the children and their safety do add a believable motivation for some of what happens. I didn't give it 5 stars because I felt the characters were a bit underdeveloped, yes they all have interesting back stories but this doesn't make them more than 2D 'names with interesting back stories' . In fairness this is common with this genre. I also found the ending, while being full of twists and revelations was a bit Agatha Christie in that the ending primarily involved characters explaining and telling rarther than scenes showing what had really been going on in the previous 300 pages. This was a bit of a disappointment if I'm honest but for it's genre it is a very good book..... And a steal at 20p.
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on 15 April 2013
The story opens with two women meeting (as if by chance) on a Paris street and one of them having to decide whether to take her family and run. The main part of the book explains how the central character, Kate, got to that point. It begins with the mundane details of a family relocating to Europe and the author quickly ratchets up the tension in a world in which everyone has secrets, including Kate herself. Pavone is a skilful writer so the dialogue and description don't jar. He has wisely kept the book at a reasonable length with very little padding, so the story fairly hurtles along. I agree with the poster who said that the time shifts were a distraction. I also think that the plot is unnecessarily complicated, so it all has to be tied up in a long explanation at the end. Nevertheless, a very entertaining read and I will definitely look forward to his next book - and the film.
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on 4 November 2012
I found this book very entertaining with many satisfying twists to the story from about a third of the way through the book. However I've given it 4 stars rather than 5 because I found it very hard work due to the skipping backwards and forwards in time, as mentioned by other reviewers. The story jumps between the present day in Paris and one year earlier in Luxembourg but obviously as the story progresses, the Luxembourg action gradually gets closer in time to the present day and it can get quite confusing. There are also flashbacks to an earlier time in the States, which are easy to spot. About halfway through the book I had to stop, go back and re-read the beginning of each chapter, to get the story straight. My advice to anyone just starting this book - as you start each chapter, make sure you know where and when it is!
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A bit confusing at first with time shifts not being signalled but comes together very effectively. Great use of locations across Europe, vividly described as well as accurate representations of ex pat life. Pretty damming depiction of American secret services.
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on 30 September 2012
I did enjoy this book. At times I loved it and at other times I was puzzled and frustrated by it. I liked the main character Kate, particularly enjoying her disdain for the expat life in Luxembourg. I enjoyed her suspicions of her new "friends", and all the thoughts constantly going on in her ex CIA mind. Although there is a lot of flitting around with time frames, I kept reading wanting to work it all out before the end. I was close but not quite right. I'd definitely read another book by this author, especially if it's practically free on Kindle!!
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on 21 March 2017
Really good, well thought out plot - as usual stretched credibility when viewed with hindsight but kept me hooked while reading. Will definitely read his next book
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on 10 November 2016
A good story that's well written and has a good story line. Worth a read!
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on 25 January 2013
I found this book a real page turner, yes it is a bit complicated jumping back and forth in time, but it such an good story, lots of twists, I really got into it, at one stage glancing over my shoulder in case there was someone lurking. The Luxembourg descriptions and life there are great and the plot is brilliant and it ONLY COSTS 20P ... shout that from the rooftops, what can you buy for 20p these days? In the end I stayed up half the night reading it and finished it off leaning against the kitchen sink.
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