Chris Pavone: The Expats (progress report)

Welllllllll it’s been over two weeks since I last posted a “weekly” review. Couldn’t be helped. Huge, unavoidable work crunch. But now all that is over and I’m starting to catch up on my reading. I have about three different books in progress right now, including The Expats by Chris Pavone. I put this on hold at the library months ago. Usually a good sign when 150 other people want to read it too, right?

I’m only on page 55, but so far I am not impressed. I guess this comes with the spy-story territory, but I absolutely can’t stand it when the protagonist knows stuff that isn’t shared with the reader. To me it seems like the worst kind of manipulation, a cheap trick for creating suspense. For example:

Also, she didn’t want to admit to Dexter the things she’d done, the types of acts she’d been — still was — capable of. If she couldn’t tell him the whole truth, she was loath to tell any of it. That seemed worse. And since the worst of it was that morning in New York, which was also the reason for the end of it all, her story wouldn’t be complete — it wouldn’t make sense — without explaining that event. And her story wouldn’t be defensible with it.

What morning in New York?? What event?? I don’t want to be forced to keep reading just to find out this background info. Suspense should unfold naturally. We should find out what’s going on along with the protagonist. Authors, if you’re going to use third person limited, it’s only fair to keep the reader in the loop, so to speak.

Also the flashbacks (or flashforwards?) are not well executed. The sequences are too short, and the different eras are too close together (only 2 years apart) so that it is very hard to keep track of where you are.

That said, the idea of a spy story that also involves marriage & family is intriguing. The setting is colorful (Luxembourg) and I am mildly interested in discovering how it all turns out. For now I will keep reading…