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The Expats
 
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The Expats [Format Kindle]

Chris Pavone
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An excerpt selection from The Expats by Chris Pavone
 
Katherine had seen them many times, at international airports, with their mountains of cheap luggage, their faces merging worry with bewilderment with exhaustion, their children slumped, fathers clutching handfuls of red or green passports that set them apart from blue-passported Americans.

They were immigrants, immigrating.

She’d seen them departing from Mexico City after a bus from Morelia, or air transfers from Quito or Guatemala City. She’d seen them in Managua and Port-au-Prince, Caracas and Bogotá. Everywhere in the world she’d gone, she’d seen them.

Now she is one of them.

Now this is her, curbside at the airport in Frankfurt-am-Main. Behind her is a pile of eight oversized mismatched suitcases. She’d seen such gigantic suitcases before in her life, and had thought, Who in their right mind would ever buy such unmanageable, hideous luggage? Now she knows: someone who needs to pack absolutely everything, all at once.

Strewn around her mountain of ugly person-size suitcases are carry-on bags and a purse and two computer bags and two little-child knapsacks, and, on low-lying outcroppings, jackets and teddy bears and a Ziploc filled with granola bars and fruit, both fresh and dried, plus brown M&M’s; all the more popular colors had been eaten before Nova Scotia.

This is her, clutching her family’s blue passports, distinct from the Germans’ burgundy, standing out not just because of the vinyl colors, but because locals don’t sit around on piles of hideous luggage, clutching passports.

This is her, not understanding what anyone was saying, the language incomprehensible. After a seven-hour flight that allowed two hours of sleep, spent and hungry and nauseated and excited and fearful.

This is her: an immigrant, immigrating.

She’d begun by taking Dexter’s family name. She’d acknowledged that she no longer needed her maiden name, her professional name. It would be easier to navigate bureaucracies, to live in a Catholic country, if the husband and wife shared the same name. She was already giving up the rest of her identity, and the name was merely incremental.

So she is someone she’s never before been: Katherine Moore. She’ll call herself Kate. Friendly, easygoing Kate. Instead of severe, serious Katherine. Kate Moore sounds like someone who knows how to have a good time in Europe. For a few days she’d auditioned Katie, in her mind, but concluded that Katie Moore sounded like a children’s book character, or a cheerleader.

Kate Moore orchestrated the move. She froze or canceled or address-changed dozens of accounts. She bought the luggage. She sorted their belongings into the requisite three categories—checked baggage, air-freight, sea-freight. She filled out shipping forms, insurance forms, formality forms.

She managed to extract herself from her job. It had not been easy, nor quick. But when the exit interviews and bureaucratic hurdles were cleared, she endured a farewell round of drinks at her boss’s Capitol Hill house, which Kate was both relieved and disappointed to discover was not noticeably larger, nor in much better condition, than her own.

This, she tells herself again, is my chance to reinvent myself. As someone who’s not making a half-assed effort at an ill-considered career; not making an unenergetic, ad hoc stab at parenting; not living in an uncomfortably dilapidated house in a crappy unneighborly neighborhood within a bitter, competitive city—a place she chose when she shipped off to her freshman year at college, and never left. She’d stayed in Washington, in her career, because one thing led to another. She hadn’t made her life happen; it had happened to her.

The German driver turns up the music, synthesizer-heavy pop from the eighties. “New Wave!” he exclaims. “I love it!” He’s drumming his fingers violently against the wheel, tapping his foot on the clutch, blinking madly, at nine a.m. Amphetamines.
Kate turns away from this maniac, and watches the pastoral countryside roll past, gentle hills and dense forests and tight little clusters of stone houses, huddled together, as if against the cold, arranged into tiny villages surrounded by vast cow fields.

She will reboot herself. Relaunch. She will become, at last, a woman who is not constantly lying to her husband about what she really does, and who she really is.
 
# # #
 
“Luxembourg?”

“Yes.”

Luxembourg?”

“That’s right.”

Katherine didn’t know how to react. So she decided on the default, deflection via ignorance. “Where is Luxembourg?” Even as she was asking this disingenuous question, she regretted it.

“It’s in Western Europe.”

“I mean, is it in Germany?” She turned her eyes away from Dexter, from the shame at the hole she was digging for herself. “Switzerland?”

Dexter looked at her blankly, clearly trying—hard—to not say something wrong. “It’s its own country. It’s a grand duchy,” he added, irrelevantly.

“A grand duchy. You’re kidding.”

“It’s the only grand duchy in the world. It’s bordered by France, Belgium, and Germany,” Dexter continued, unbidden. “They surround it.”

“No.” Shaking her head. “There’s no such country. You’re talking about—I don’t know—Alsace. Or Lorraine. You’re talking about Alsace-Lorraine.”

“Those places are in France. Luxembourg is a different, um, nation.”

She redirected her attention to the cutting board, the onion in mid-mince, sitting atop the counter that was threatening to separate entirely from the warped cabinetry beneath it, pulled apart by some primordial force—water, or gravity, or both—pushing the kitchen over the brink from acceptably shabby to unacceptably crappy plus unhygienic and outright dangerous, finally forcing the full kitchen renovation that, even after editing out every unnecessary upgrade and aesthetic indulgence, would still cost forty thousand dollars that they didn’t have.

As a stopgap, Dexter had secured C-clamps to the corners of the counter, to prevent the slab of wood from sliding off the cabinetry. These clumsily positioned clamps had caused Katherine to bang her hand, causing her knife to slip, the blade sliding silently into the meat of her left palm, bathing the mango and cutting board in blood. She’d stood at the sink, a dishrag pressed to her wound, blood dripping onto the ratty floor mat, spreading through the cotton fibers in the same pattern as the rug that day in the New York hotel, when she should’ve looked away, but didn’t.

“And what makes it a grand duchy?” She wiped the onion-tears from her eye.

“It’s ruled by a grand duke.”

“You’re making this up.”

“I’m not.” Dexter was wearing a very small smile, as if he might indeed be pulling her leg. But no, this smile was too small for that; this was the smile of Dexter pretending to pull a leg, while being dead-serious. A feint of a fake smile.

“Okay,” she said, “I’ll bite: why would we move to Luxembourg?”

“To make a lot of money, and travel around Europe all the time.”

“You’re going to make a lot of money? In Luxembourg? How?”

“It’s the private-banking capital of the world. And I just got offered a lucrative contract from one of those private banks. Plus I won’t even need to work that much.” Both of them had at one time been ambitious. But after ten years together and five with children, only Dexter sustained any modicum of ambition. Most of what remained was to work less. Or so Katherine had thought. Now apparently he also aspired to get rich. In Europe.

 “Can you tell me about the place? Because I obviously could’ve been wrong about what continent it’s on.” Once Katherine had begun this lie, she’d have to play along with it fully. That was the secret to maintaining lies: not trying to hide them. It had always been disturbingly easy to lie to her husband.

“It’s rich,” Dexter said. “The highest per capita GDP in the world. Also, it’s . . . um
 . . . it’s small. A half-million people. The size is Rhode Island–ish. But Rhode Island is, I think, bigger. A little. The capital is also called Luxembourg. Eighty thousand people live there.”

“Eighty thousand? That’s not a city. That’s—I don’t know—that’s a college town.”

“Yes. But it’s a beautiful college town. In the middle of Europe. Where someone will be paying me a lot of money. So it’s not a normal Amherst-style college town. And it’s a college town where you won’t need to have a job.”

Katherine froze mid-mince, at the twist in the road of this plan that she’d anticipated ten minutes ago, as soon as her husband had uttered the question “What would you think of moving to Luxembourg?” The twist that meant she’d have to quit her job, permanently. In that first flash of recognition, deep relief had washed over her, the relief of an unexpected solution to an intractable problem. She would have to resign. It was not her decision.

“So what would I do?” she asked. “In Luxembourg? Which I’m still not convinced is real. You have to admit, it sounds made-up.”

She had never admitted ...

Revue de presse

"Sly. . . . Pavone strengthens this book with a string of head-spinning revelations in its last pages. . . . The tireless scheming of all four principals truly exceeds all sane expectations.” —The New York Times

“Bombshell-a-minute. . . . Pavone creates a fascinating, complicated hero.” Entertainment Weekly

“A gripping spy drama and an artful study of the sometimes cat-and-mouse game of marriage.” —Family Circle

“Smartly executed. . . . Pavone is full of sharp insights into the parallels between political espionage and marital duplicity. . . . Thoroughly captivating.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Superb. . . . [Pavone] expertly draws readers along with well-timed clues and surprises. . . . An engineering marvel.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Expertly and intricately plotted, with a story spiraling into disaster and a satisfyingly huge amount of double-crossing, The Expats certainly doesn’t feel like a first novel.  This is an impressively assured entry to the thriller scene.” —The Guardian (London)

“Refreshingly original. . . . Part Ludlum in the pacing, part Le Carré in the complexity of story and character, but mostly Chris Pavone. . . . A thriller so good that you wonder what other ideas [Pavone] has up his cloak, right alongside the obligatory dagger.” —The Star-Ledger

“Amazing. . . . 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.” —Associated Press

“A blast. . . . Pavone is spinning a fantastic tale with action that spans the globe.” —Dallas Morning News

“Highly entertaining.” —Mystery Scene

“Thoroughly enjoyable.” —Suspense Magazine

“Hard to put down.” —San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Stunningly assured. . . . An intricate, suspenseful plot that is only resolved in the final pages.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Brilliant, insanely clever, and delectably readable.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“Meticulously plotted, psychologically complex. . . . The sheer amount of bombshell plot twists are nothing short of extraordinary, but it’s Pavone’s portrayal of Kate and her quest to find meaning in her charade of an existence that makes this book such a powerful read.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Impressive. . . . With almost more double-crosses than a body can stand.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Bristling with suspense and elegantly crafted, The Expats introduces a compelling and powerful female protagonist you won't soon forget. Well done!” —Patricia Cornwell

“I often thought I was again reading the early works of Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, and Robert Ludlum. Smart, clever suspense, skillfully plotted, and a lot of fun to read.” —John Grisham

“One of the best-written spy thrillers I've ever read. . . . A riveting story of great-game deceptions wrapped inside the smaller deceptions of marriage. At moments horrifying, hilarious, and very wise, The Expats has given Chris Pavone a permanent place on my short list of must-read authors.” —Olen Steinhauer

“A gem. Clever, suspenseful with a jet fueled story that rockets from one corner of the globe to another, it is never less than a thrill a minute. . . . An absolute winner!” —Christopher Reich

“Spy stories need to budge over to make space for Kate Moore—mother, wife, expat and far more than she appears. I loved her.” —Rosamund Lupton

“Riveting.  One of the most accomplished debuts of recent years: not just a worthy addition to the literature of espionage and betrayal, but a fine portrait of a marriage disintegrating under the pressure of secrets and lies.” —John Connolly

Présentation de l'éditeur

Kate Moore is an expat mum, newly transplanted from Washington D.C. In the cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg, her days are filled with play dates and coffee mornings, her weekends spent in Paris or skiing in the Alps. Kate is also guarding a secret - one so momentous it could destroy her neat little expat life - and she suspects that another American couple are not who they claim to be; plus her husband is acting suspiciously. As she travels around Europe, she finds herself looking over her shoulder, terrified her past is catching up with her.

As Kate begins to dig, to uncover the secrets of those around her, she finds herself buried in layers of deceit so thick they threaten her family, her marriage and her life.

A thrilling debut-to-remember, Chris Pavone's The Expats will keep you guessing until the very end.

Biographie de l'auteur

Chris Pavone grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from Cornell. For nearly two decades he was a book editor, as well as the author of The Wine Log. Chris and his family spent some time living in Luxembourg, but recently returned to New York City. The Expats is his first novel.
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