Book Review: The Paris Diversion by Chris Pavone


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Expats. Kate Moore is back in a pulse-pounding thriller to discover that a massive terror attack across Paris is not what it seems – and that it involves her family

American expat Kate Moore drops her kids at the international school, makes her rounds of chores, and meets her husband Dexter at their regular café a leisurely start to a normal day, St-Germain-des-Pres.

Across the Seine, tech CEO Hunter Forsyth stands on his balcony, wondering why his police escort just departed, and frustrated that his cell service has cut out; Hunter has important calls to make, not all of them technically legal.

And on the nearby rue de Rivoli, Mahmoud Khalid climbs out of an electrician’s van and elbows his way into the crowded courtyard of the world’s largest museum. He sets down his metal briefcase, and removes his windbreaker.

That’s when people start to scream.

Everyone has big plans for the day. Dexter is going to make a small fortune, finally digging himself out of a deep financial hole, via an extremely risky investment. Hunter is going to make a huge fortune, with a major corporate acquisition that will send his company’s stock soaring. Kate has less ambitious plans: preparations for tonight’s dinner party–one of those homemaker obligations she still hasn’t embraced, even after a half-decade of this life–and an uneventful workday at the Paris Substation, the clandestine cadre of operatives that she’s been running, not entirely successfully, increasingly convinced that every day could be the last of her career. But every day is also a fresh chance to prove her own relevance, never more so than during today’s momentous events.

And Mahmoud? He is planning to die today. And he won’t be the only one.

The Paris Diversion is author Chris Pavone’s follow-up to his 2012 debut, The Expats. In The Expats, we meet Kate Moore, a former secret agent now living a life of domestic boredom as a wife and mother while her husband engages in some shady high finance dealings. The book is terrific and tense and surprising, so definitely check that one out!

Now years later, we re-meet Kate living in Paris, her boys a few years older, her husband mildly to incredibly annoying, and her career back in full-swing, running her own espionage bureau with only the loosest of ties to the US government.

The Paris Diversion takes place over one very dramatic day, as Kate and husband Dexter prepare for a dinner party — and a complicated plot revolving around terror threats and corporate sabotage unfolds in the city around them. As Kate plunges into action, unable to convince herself to stay on the sidelines, it becomes clear that Dexter’s hands may not be entirely clean. Meanwhile, we meet the various players in this international web of intrigue, some bit players, some criminal masterminds, and some merely pawns who find themselves useful or expendable in different ways.

The plot of The Paris Diversion is complicated, but not impenetrable, and hooked me right from the start. It’s interesting to get inside the mind of Kate Moore, a woman with pretty typical worries about aging and career and family, plus others hopefully less familiar to most women — do I have the right weapons? am I being followed? is my disguise in place? how many people will I have to kill today? The book starts off as a thriller about terrorism, but it quickly becomes clear that there’s much more going on than meets the eye, and the final puzzle pieces don’t click into place until the very last pages of the novel.

Do you need to read The Expats first? Not necessarily? I think The Paris Diversion would work perfectly well on its own — there’s enough backstory provided about the characters and their lives, so it shouldn’t be hard to for someone to fully enjoy The Paris Diversion on its own merits. Still, if you’re so inclined, I’d definitely recommend reading The Expats as a starting place. Kate is a fascinating character, so why not start with her first appearance?

I’ve read all three of Chris Pavone’s previous novels, and thought they were all excellent. I don’t tend to read a lot of spy thrillers, but these books absolutely work for me!

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The details:

Title: The Paris Diversion
Author: Chris Pavone
Publisher: Crown
Publication date: May 7, 2019
Length: 374 pages
Genre: Spy thriller
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Take A Peek Book Review: The Accident by Chris Pavone

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.

The Accident2

Synopsis:

(via Goodreads)

As dawn approaches in New York, literary agent Isabel Reed is turning the final pages of a mysterious, anonymous manuscript, racing through the explosive revelations about powerful people, as well as long-hidden secrets about her own past. In Copenhagen, veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray, determined that this sweeping story be buried, is suddenly staring down the barrel of an unexpected gun. And in Zurich, the author himself is hiding in a shadowy expat life, trying to atone for a lifetime’s worth of lies and betrayals with publication of The Accident, while always looking over his shoulder.

Over the course of one long, desperate, increasingly perilous day, these lives collide as the book begins its dangerous march toward publication, toward saving or ruining careers and companies, placing everything at risk—and everyone in mortal peril.  The rich cast of characters—in publishing and film, politics and espionage—are all forced to confront the consequences of their ambitions, the schisms between their ideal selves and the people they actually became.

The action rockets around Europe and across America, with an intricate web of duplicities stretching back a quarter-century to a dark winding road in upstate New York, where the shocking truth about the accident itself is buried.

Gripping, sophisticated, layered, and impossible to put down, The Accident proves once again that Chris Pavone is a true master of suspense.

 

My Thoughts:

“Impossible to put down” is exactly right. This spy thriller is off-beat, unusual, and deceptively layered. I expected a certain type of story, but The Accident keeps growing and twisting and taking off in all sorts of unexpected directions.

Who would have thought that an anonymous manuscript could set off an international hunt and race against the clock? With altered identities, murder, surveillance, and high-stakes chases, the manuscript sets off ripples not just in the publishing world, but in corporate headquarters and secret intelligence organizations around the globe.

I read this book on vacation, and it was a perfect choice for lazy reading on a lounge chair with a cold drink in hand. It requires attention, but goes very quickly, and isn’t something that’s going to ruin your happy mood or keep you obsessed while you should be thinking about other things.

This is the second novel by author Chris Pavone, and there is some carry-over from his first, The Expats, as well as characters who appear in his next, The Travelers. I read this one out of order, and realized there were connections I’d missed in The Travelers because I hadn’t read The Accident first. It doesn’t matter a great deal, though. You can enjoy enjoy each novel completely on its own — but reading all three in the order of publication makes it all the more fun, seeing familiar names and places and making connections.

This is a great escapist adventure read — check it out!

Want to know more about this author’s books? Check out my reviews of his other works:
The Expats
The Travelers

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The details:

Title: The Accident
Author: Chris Pavone
Publisher: Crown
Publication date: March 1, 2014
Length: 381 pages
Genre: Spy thriller
Source: Purchased

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Take A Peek Book Review: The Travelers by Chris Pavone

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.The Travelers

Synopsis:

(via Goodreads)

A pulse-racing international thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Expats and The Accident

It’s 3:00am. Do you know where your husband is?

Meet Will Rhodes: travel writer, recently married, barely solvent, his idealism rapidly giving way to disillusionment and the worry that he’s living the wrong life. Then one night, on assignment for the award-winning Travelers magazine in the wine region of Argentina, a beautiful woman makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Soon Will’s bad choices—and dark secrets—take him across Europe, from a chateau in Bordeaux to a midnight raid on a Paris mansion, from a dive bar in Dublin to a mega-yacht in the Mediterranean and an isolated cabin perched on the rugged cliffs of Iceland. As he’s drawn further into a tangled web of international intrigue, it becomes clear that nothing about Will Rhodes was ever ordinary, that the network of deception ensnaring him is part of an immense and deadly conspiracy with terrifying global implications—and that the people closest to him may pose the greatest threat of all.

It’s 3:00am. Your husband has just become a spy.

 

My Thoughts:

Wow, what a wild ride!

The Travelers is a twisty, turny thriller, with so many layers of deception that it’ll make your head spin. Basically, this book is just filled with lying liars who lie — everyone has an angle, everyone is hiding something, and nothing is as it seems.

At the center of it all, Will Rhodes starts as a lone innocent, a pawn caught up in schemes he doesn’t understand, but over the course of the story Will takes control of his own destiny and seeks to change the course of decades-long plotting and espionage. Meanwhile, absolutely no one is trustworthy, and more than several someones are out to kill Will.

You don’t have to be a fan of the spy genre to enjoy The Travelers. The plotting is intricate, and the writing, while tense and full of suspense, is also at times quite funny and wryly observant. Beyond the world of high-stakes spycraft, there’s plenty of between-the-lines commentary on marriage, relationships, career fulfillment and frustration, and so much else related to growing up and dealing with adult life. Plus, with settings like Paris, Stockholm, and Iceland and all sorts of other points around the globe, it’s a whirlwind adventure with never a dull moment.

I’ve read one book by the author previously (The Expats — see my review here), and I definitely want to read his other novel, The Accident. While the plot of The Travelers has a satisfying ending, the epilogue leaves just enough hanging open to hint of more to come for these characters. I certainly hope that the author writes a sequel — I’d love to spend more time in this world!

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The details:

Title: The Travelers
Author: Chris Pavone
Publisher: Crown
Publication date: March 8, 2016
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Spy thriller
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley