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Review: 'The Expats' is excellent spy thriller

JEFF AYERS The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 04:38 AM

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"The Expats," by Chris Pavone, Crown

Chris Pavone channels spy-fiction superstars Robert Ludlum and John le Carre in his amazing first novel, "The Expats."

Kate Moore leaves her double life as a wife and mother and a covert operative in the CIA when her husband, Dexter, gets a new job in Luxembourg. She tries to be a stay-at-home mom (her husband has no idea she worked for the CIA), and though her former bosses aren't concerned, she's worried that her past will come back to haunt her.

Soon her new life as an expat begins to unravel. Kate meets a friendly pair from America, and the two couples start spending time together. Dexter practically lives at the office and becomes increasingly obsessed with work.

Bored — and a bit concerned — Kate's old instincts kick in, and she begins to investigate her husband and their new friends. It doesn't take long for her to discover that Dexter's job isn't what she thought it was, and that he might be responsible for the theft of a huge sum of money.

Kate also discovers evidence that the American couple are assassins — and that she and Dexter are their next targets.

"The Expats" is a skillful and atmospheric descent into paranoia. Kate's journey as her life falls apart is compelling, and the novel is impossible to put down. Pavone invokes memories of the great writers of spy fiction of the past, and he has the chops to be mentioned with the best of them.

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