You have given up your job and moved to the other side of the world to live the life of an expat homemaker while your spouse pursues their brilliant career in a land where you know no one and don’t speak the language. What should you do?
Kate Moore, the protagonist of The Expats by Chris Pavone, throws herself into the everyday life of an expat stay at home mum, taking the kids to school, arranging play dates, coffee mornings, weekend trips around Europe, but author Chris Pavone, faced with the same situation, turned his attention to writing this book.
With some twenty years of experience working as an editor in the publishing houses of New York City, it was perhaps inevitable that he would take up writing and within a year of publication in 2013, this, his first novel, was already raking in awards; becoming a New York Times and international bestseller and receiving the 2013 Edgar Award and Anthony Award for Best First Novel.
The book, set Luxembourg, describes Kate’s attempts to reinvent herself and settle into her new role, but as she becomes increasingly suspicious about her husband Dexter’s mysterious, high flying job in banking, her own secrets are gradually revealed. Even Dexter is unaware that her 15 year career as a mundane government officer has been a fiction; in fact she is a CIA agent, field operative and sometime assassin.
As another American couple, Julia and Bill, also on assignment in Europe, inveigle themselves deeper into the lives of the Moore’s, Kate’s CIA instincts tell her something is not right. She suspects that her own past is catching up with her, but as she investigates further uncovering fake offices, hidden guns, and inexplicably large sums of money, it is Dexter, Julia and Bill who reveal even bigger secrets of their own.
It may not be high literature, and it may have greater appeal to fellow expats, but it is a very readable book, mixing the mundane realities of expat life with a bizarre fantasy of espionage and finance, which keeps the pages turning until all loose ends have been tied up.