Crime Fiction Alphabet: X is for …?

letter_XKerrie’s Crime Fiction Alphabet has reached the letter X this week but I haven’t found any books to fit in the required categories:

Your post MUST be related to either the first letter of a book’s title, the first letter of an author’s first name, or the first letter of the author’s surname, or even maybe a crime fiction “topic”. But above all, it has to be crime fiction.
So you see you have lots of choice.
You could write a review, or a bio of an author, so long as it fits the rules somehow.

So I decided to add another category – a book with a title that sounds as though it begins with the letter and plumped for The Xpats, or as it really is – The Expats by Chris Pavone.

Synopsis (Chris Pavone’s website):

Kate Moore is a typical expat mom, newly transplanted from Washington DC to the quiet cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg. Her days are filled with coffee mornings and play-dates, her weekends with trips to Paris and Amsterdam. Kate is also guarding a tremendous, life-defining secret, one that’s becoming unbearable, indefensible. It’s also clear that another expat American couple are not really who they’re claiming to be; plus Kate’s husband is acting suspiciously. While she travels around Europe, looking for answers, she’s increasingly worried that her past is finally catching up with her. As Kate digs, and uncovers the secrets of the people who surround her, she finds herself buried in layers of deceit so thick they threaten her family, her marriage, and her life.

My view:

The book moves between the present day and the past, just two years earlier and is narrated through Kate’s perspective. Although I like this type of narrative, I had to concentrate to follow the changes in time and location as I read. It begins slowly and then gradually the tension builds and builds as Kate discovers more secrets and reveals secrets of her own to the reader. It certainly kept me wanting to know more and trying to work out the bluffs and double bluffs.

I liked the insights into the expat life – the adjustments in lifestyle and expectations come over very well and the locations are described in just enough detail for someone (me) who hasn’t been to these places to visualise the scenes. Chris Pavone has been to all the locations and there is a helpful itinerary map on his website.

Most of all I liked the tension in Chris Pavone’s narrative and the contrast between Kate’s everyday life as a mother of two young boys, the interaction between her and her husband and friends, and her ‘secret’ life with all its dangers and complications. I think Pavone portrays the female perspective well and Kate is a fully rounded character. I don’t often read spy thrillers, but found myself completely engrossed in this one, even though by the end I thought the whole thing was almost too incredible to believe. But then, what do I know about spies and cyber crime?

7 thoughts on “Crime Fiction Alphabet: X is for …?

  1. I heard this novel very well reviewed on a US podcast when it first came out, but I’ve only just managed to get hold of a copy which is sitting on my bookshelf right now. Like you, I don’t read many spy thrillers, although I am a le Carré fan, so I’ll have to see how I get on with this. It will be interesting to compare notes.


    • I hope you’ll write about it when you have read it. I haven’t read any Le Carre, but enjoyed the TV version of Tinker, Tailor,Soldier, Spy years ago – and I have one of his books waiting to be read.


  2. Margaret – What an interesting-sounding book! I’m especially intrigued by the ex-pat scenario as there’s so much room there for character development and setting too. Like you, I don’t tend to reach first for a spy thriller, but this one could very well be an exception…


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