THE EXPATS by Chis Pavone

Sometimes when you are reading a book, you do really have to wonder if the author is having just one great big laugh. How ridiculous can he make his plot line, how far can he fool the reader, how much fun can he have in making his story believable. You just want to keep on reading to see how preposterous it can all get. And yet it is still a compelling and highly readable novel. How strange can fiction get?  After reading this it would have to be a great bit of fact to be stranger than this story!

So, Kate is a wife and mother married to an IT financial security expert called Toby. They live in Washington DC, have two young sons, and life seems pretty rosy. But Kate has a secret, a secret so big her husband does not even know. Her job as a researcher is actually just a cover for being a CIA agent, now tied to a desk but in her past she was an active field agent with some dark secrets to protect. She resigns from the CIA when Toby gets the job of a lifetime as a top notch security analyst for a big bank in the European tax haven of Luxembourg. Hooked yet? So the family upsticks to the idyllic city of Luxembourg and Kate becomes the cliched expat wife. Overnight. Hardly surprising she struggles a little with her new role as non-working, financially dependent wife/mother. Is all her CIA training and instincts telling her that there are things in her new life that aren't quite right, or is she so bored and frustrated that she is looking for trouble, or is she simply paranoid? It would seem that the expat life is not all coffee mornings, play dates, cocktail parties and weekend breaks in exotic locations. Nothing or anyone is what they seem, and before long we are all dragged into the web.

It is however all a bit long and tedious. For someone who has spent her life being an action woman Kate is tiresomely indecisive, overly self analytical, and not as intuitive as the likes of the CIA agents we see on the tele. But if you can take the whole premise of this story with a very large grain of salt it is actually quite enjoyable, with twists and turns, red herrings galore and plenty to look forward to in the inevitable movie. 

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