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Pavone, Chris - 'The Expats'
Paperback: 496 pages (Jan. 2013) Publisher: Faber and Faber ISBN: 0571279171

This mesmerising story is quite extraordinary. Kate Moore is an American working mother with two young children struggling to make ends meet when her husband Dexter announces that he has been offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg to continue to pursue his career as computer security consultant. So Kate resigns her job and makes arrangements to ship all her important possessions out to Luxembourg so that they can be together. But something that Kate has always kept secret from her husband is that her own job was not with the US State Department, as he thought, but with the CIA. She jumps at this chance for her to leave behind her double life and start anew. The CIA, on the other hand are not so easy to let her go without a lot of in depth debriefing interviews with many different levels of her bosses but after many weeks of this finally she can go.

When the couple are in Luxembourg, Dexter is away working long days and often travelling to other foreign capitals from home on assignments and Kate is in this new country looking after her two young boys and taking them to school. During the hours they are at school she mixes in the expat community of Brits, American and other nationalities doing coffee mornings and having social gatherings with the other wives. She speaks fluent Spanish already and is learning French so is able to converse easily with most that she meets. Then she meets another American couple, the McCleans and they seem very nice at first but then Kate starts to doubt their bona-fides. As the Moores are based in Luxembourg they are free to travel around Europe whenever they wish. Wherever, they go they always seem to meet the McLeans. In Paris it happened and in other places. Kate wonders about the McLeans and whether, from her own past, there may be a way of unravelling the truth about them.

As Kate did many undercover operations in her days with the CIA she is very cognisant of all the ways to check out a suspect using the internet and even her old contacts and after some time she soon learns who the McLeans are. Up to this point of this discovery Kate has been having frequent flashbacks of the dangerous operations she has carried out mainly in South or Central America and she has in her past had to take many harsh decisions and she wonders whether her past is catching up with her? The story rushes on to its very surprising conclusion.

THE EXPATS is quite long at 496 pages but the tension of what is happening to Kate and her family in this very gripping story carries right though to the end. I just could not put this one down and I do hope that the New York based author Chris Pavone, who worked in Luxembourg before penning this, his first dynamic thriller, writes many sequels as I would love to read them. Well Recommended.

Terry Halligan, England
February 2013

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 3/02/2013 11:25