Andrea’s Pick of the Week: The Paris Diversion by Chris Pavone

On a beautiful fall morning in Paris, things are not normal. Kate Moore, expat American in Paris, mother of two, and clandestine CIA agent, senses it almost immediately. There are sirens in the distance, too many, coming closer, and she wonders if this is the day her world will begin to fall apart. Over the course of the next 12 hours, Kate becomes involved in a presumed terrorist plot, with bombs planted all around Paris.

Kate was the protagonist of author Pavone’s first book, the breakout best-seller The Expats, and this story picks up several years after that one ended. I can’t remember the details of that first book, but it doesn’t matter – all becomes clear as The Paris Diversion’s plot unfolds. Told in short bursts from varying points of view, the story moves at a rapid pace, with cliffhanger-ending chapters. And while the twisty plot kept me guessing, Pavone’s writing was what made me love the book. His prose is crisp, efficient — then suddenly there’s a descriptive sentence that lasts a full paragraph.  The story is timely, too, with underlying themes of racism and racial profiling behind the plot.

The Paris Diversion also has a terrific sense of place that brought Paris to life. In his remarks at the end of the book, Pavone says he wrote much of it during a one-week stay in the city, which amazed me. Reading the book, I would have sworn he’d been an expat there himself. This is a terrific, tightly-plotted thriller. I’m going to be recommending it to everyone this summer.

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