Summer Sale! Save 20% today and get access to all our member benefits.

The Paris Diversion: Book summary and reviews of The Paris Diversion by Chris Pavone

The Paris Diversion

A Novel

by Chris Pavone

The Paris Diversion by Chris Pavone X
The Paris Diversion by Chris Pavone
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published Feb 2020
    400 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

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-Prés.

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.

Paperback reprint. First published in hardcover and e-book, May 2019

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. Kate Moore, the protagonist of The Paris Diversion, is also the main character of Chris Pavone's novel The Expats. In this book, she once again leads a double life when she returns to work as a spy, this time in Paris. There are moments in which Kate feels conflicted between her devotion to her family and her dedication to her professional life. Have you experienced similar tensions in your life? Would you agree that it is important to reserve parts of ourselves from our families, and to find passion and meaning in other vocations or work? Might doing so make us better partners or parents?
  2. "This is the difference between Dexter's sham job and Kate: he's an amateur and she's a pro." The Paris Diversion and The Expats challenge standard ...

You can see the full discussion here. This discussion will contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about The Paris Diversion:

At their core, do you think Pavone's characters are more alike than they are different? Did you ever feel an increased sense of sympathy or understanding for any of them as you learned more about their histories?
I felt they were very much alike. All seemed self-centered, looking to make a buck at someone else's expense, willing to break the law and sacrifice others for their own ends. All lived double lives and felt the need to hide so much of themselves ... - Junebug

Author insights on goodreads
This breathless sentence and Pavone's note regarding it made me realize how well the author planted the seeds for further novels. "After weeks of rain and gray and increasingly hostile chill, today was an autumnal jewel, a reprieve that everyone ... - ABeman

Can you identify one character in this book that seemed to have good intentions?
I agree with the comment about the sniper. He seemed to be the one person trying to keep things good, with little success. Everyone else was just in it for themselves. - SKB

Dexter's career involves stock market speculation, but Kate feels that it seems like a gamble. What is your view on the topic?
Stock market speculation is absolutely a gamble. With financial markets, higher rewards are related to higher risks. If you are told otherwise, you should beware and run in the other direction. Dexter was, to be honest, though, involved in what he ... - pnelson384

Do you agree with her assessment of how a police state happens? Once this cycle begins, do you think it can be broken, and if so, how?
The use of the police to control daily actions of citizens is a police state. While it is easier to slip into a police state if the military or police are armed and ever present it is not a given. The existence of a leader who fears the people or ... - paulagb

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!


Media Reviews

"[A] fast-paced thriller ... shelve alongside le Carré, Forsyth, and other masters of foreign intrigue." - Kirkus Reviews

"Deliciously twisty ... This involving work has been skillfully engineered for maximum reader enjoyment." - The Wall Street Journal

"The most clever plot twist of the year." - Washington Post

"I nominate Kate Moore, the protagonist of Chris Pavone's sizzling new thriller The Paris Diversion, for patron saint of working wives and mothers everywhere." - The New York Times Book Review

"The Paris Diversion is the best espionage novel I've read this year. Smart, sophisticated and suspenseful, this is Pavone's finest novel to date—and that's saying something." - Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fool Me Once

"Thriller writing at its absolute best. With echoes of Graham Greene and John le Carré, Pavone's novel accomplishes that rare feat of being both a nonstop adventure ride and a smart, stylish and compelling meditation on family, courage, responsibilities, and the relationships we create, for good and bad, throughout our lives. The Paris Diversion does far more than divert; it grips us from the very beginning and doesn't let go." - Jeffery Deaver, New York Times bestselling author of The Cutting Edge

"Sleek, cunning and breakneck, Chris Pavone's The Paris Diversion sweeps you into its frenetic rhythms from its first pages. With a sprawling cast of characters, with its scissoring plot twists, and especially with Kate—as rich and complicated a hero as you could hope for—it keeps you returning for more and more. A knockout." - Megan Abbott, author of Give Me Your Hand and You Will Know Me

"Chris Pavone is a master craftsman. A natural storyteller. Whether we're being driven around Paris in a car trunk or walking through the Luxembourg Gardens, his descriptions leap off the page. The Paris Diversion is a terrific read." - Jason Matthews, New York Times bestselling author of the Red Sparrow trilogy

"An ingenious, engrossing sequel to an ingenious, engrossing original. If only all follow-ups were this good." - John Connolly, New York Times bestselling author of the Charlie Parker thriller series

This information about The Paris Diversion was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own reviewwrite your own review


Wow- what a page turner!
This book has everything going for it - a fun Parisian setting, dangerous but believable situations, and characters who are realistically imperfect. They have a blend of both good and bad qualities that keep the reader guessing about what will happen next. Author Chris Pavone seems extremely knowledgeable about Paris, so readers who have traveled there will be able to picture the scenes perfectly.

One critic compared this book to John le Carre; that seems like a good match to give you an idea of the fast paced action. However, at the same time, Pavone weaves in the day-to-day life events of American ex-pats Kate Moore and her husband. The irritation of dealing with the "Hashtag Mom" who seems to plan her actions and comments around how well she can present her life on social media is a classic.

When you want a good story that holds your interest, this book fits the bill.

Patricia N

A mystery with a touch of suspense and intrigue
If you enjoy mysteries with a touch or suspense and intrigue, you will like The Paris Diversion! The characters from The Expats are at it again! This book has more depth to it if you've read the previous novel, but you don't have to have read it to enjoy this one.
The premise of this story is something new and intriguing, and will bring you on a ride trying to figure out who is doing what to whom.

Lisa W

Better as a sequel
I really enjoyed the book and it kept me engaged. However, I felt it worked much better as a sequel than it did as a stand-alone. The previous book, written quite some time ago, the Expats, introduces us to the main characters. We learn so much about them individually and as a couple. That is lacking in this book. They have an intense and vivid history and read in that context, Paris Diversion becomes much more interesting. That being said, my husband really enjoyed it and he did not read the The Expats. All in all, I was involved and kept turning the pages...but I do recommend reading it second.


Twist followed by twist followed by twist
Paris, the City of Lights, is the backdrop to what appears to be extraordinarily well coordinated multi acts of terrorism. But then it’s not. Without giving too much away, this page turner reveals some of the more base sides of people. And that revenge can destroy worlds. It’s a worthwhile read that unfolds and surprises at every twist and turn.


Fast-Paced Thriller
Chris Pavone’s The Paris Diversion arrived from BookBrowse. I was not familiar with Pavone; he has published three previous spy thrillers. Since I like to know something about the author’s background, I looked for his Web site to discover a bit about Pavone.
After reading the book, I did further research which brought additional information. Janet Maslin, writing for The New York Times, said Pavone “had previously worked in cookbook publishing.” That forms an interesting leap from cookbooks to espionage thrillers. Maslin calls The Expats, Pavone’s first thriller, “sexy” and “rare.” Then she continues by saying that The Paris Diversion, the latest book and the one I received, will become part of a series. Further, Maslin tells readers that if they start with The Paris Diversion, they will “spend a lot of time wondering who the Moores are, what happened to them in Luxembourg (not to mention what happened during Kate’s long career in espionage before she married Dexter) and what residue of problems and enemies are brought to this touristy new book.”
Luckily, I did not read Maslin’s review until after I had completed The Paris Diversion. I can see why Maslin makes those remarks because I kept wondering how Kate and Dexter’s backstory—still unknown to me---fit into the current story.
Pavone writes with surety and creates a breathless narrative. With Paris as the setting, the well-known landmarks also become part of the story, especially if one is in danger of being blown up by a terrorist.
Keeping up with the wide cast of characters becomes a task for the reader. How will the stories connect? Kate and Dexter, a married couple, have more secrets from each other than any two strangers might. Their two young sons appear to be the only remaining link between them. Dexter asks Kate about her job and she continues to be evasive, telling him nothing. On the other hand, Dexter is withholding information from Kate as well.
In the midst of a potential terrorist attack at the Louvre, Kate and Dexter continue to plan a birthday party for one of their sons with the planning taking place via text messages. As Kate remembers other tasks for Dexter for the upcoming party, she is dashing around Paris trying to find out about the bomb, the organization behind it, and more.
Pavone’s writing is fast-paced, to say the least. Following Kate around as she backtracks and crisscrosses Paris to avoid being followed is dizzying. Kate has contingency plans for all sorts of encounters. She has a ready false name to give in any situation.
The disparate stories in The Paris Diversion became a bit disconcerting to me as I tried to determine how they would come together. Once, I relaxed, sat back, and simply read to the end, I felt better about the story. Instead of trying to figure out the connections, I read on and waited for the stories to come together.

Carmel B

“You Are Being Diverted”
Perhaps I am not “smart” or “sophisticated” enough because this read is not “suspenseful” for me, it is annoying. Mahmoud has been at the “location” in Paris for fifty-two pages and nothing has happened. Kate clearly plays an important role but all she has done so far is drop her daughter off at school, shop and drink coffee in a café while complaining about “Hashtag Mom” which is curious because, so far, she is everything that woman is, minus the hashtag. Collette is clickety-clacking on the hardwood floors with her stilettos in Hunter’s Penthouse Office while he awaits his “big chance.” Just when one thinks the story might really begin to unfold, enter another character in Venice who spends four pages ignoring her gurgling baby and getting ready to hit the all-important “send” key on her PC. Lastly, there is Dexter, Kate’s castigated husband, maybe her foil? Lots and lots of sirens and police cars racing around which is intriguing for a while, but not fifty-two pages. The impression is that the reader is expected to follow these characters operating independently until, at some point painfully far down the road, they converge in some great confluence of revelation. Maybe other readers will have the patience.

...1 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Chris Pavone Author Biography

Chris Pavone is author of five international thrillers: The Expats (2012), The Accident (2014), The Travelers (2016), The Paris Diversion (2019), and Two Nights in Lisbon (2022).

His novels have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and IndieNext; have won both the Edgar and Anthony awards, and have been shortlisted for the Strand, Macavity, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize; are in development for film and television; and have been translated into two dozen languages.

He has written for outlets including the New York Times Book Review and Magazine, the Telegraph, and Salon; has appeared on Face the Nation, Good Day New York, All Things Considered, and the BBC; and has been profiled on the arts' front ...

... Full Biography
Link to Chris Pavone's Website

Name Pronunciation
Chris Pavone: puh-vo-KNEE

Other books by Chris Pavone at BookBrowse
  • Two Nights in Lisbon jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more thrillers...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
    The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
    by Briony Cameron
    Our titular heroine's story begins in Yáquimo, Santo Domingo. Jacquotte Delahaye is a young ...
  • Book Jacket: Another Word for Love
    Another Word for Love
    by Carvell Wallace
    "I write about beautiful things because I live in a country that has tried to kill me and every...
  • Book Jacket
    The Flower Sisters
    by Michelle Collins Anderson
    Michelle Collins Anderson's novel The Flower Sisters, based in part on a real tragedy that occurred ...
  • Book Jacket: Craft
    by Ananda Lima
    You may have heard about books that are letters to God, but what about books that are letters to the...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.
Win This Book
Win The Bluestockings

The Bluestockings by Susannah Gibson

An illuminating group portrait of the eighteenth-century women who dared to imagine an active life for themselves in both mind and spirit.



Solve this clue:

A W in S C

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.