The BookBrowse Review

Published January 22, 2020

ISSN: 1930-0018

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Book Jacket

The Paris Diversion
A Novel
by Chris Pavone
4 Feb 2020
400 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN-13: 9781524761516
Genre: Thrillers
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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

Here are some of the recent comments posted about The Paris Diversion.
You can read the full discussion here, and please do participate if you wish.
Be aware that this discussion will contain spoilers!

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? (17 responses)

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 from their significant others. They did not seem ... - Junebug

Author insights on goodreads (2 responses)

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 knows will be brief, and the warm weather has ... - ABeman

Can you identify one character in this book that seemed to have good intentions? (4 responses)

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? (15 responses)

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 thought was insider trading, which is not legal. ... - 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? (8 responses)

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 outsiders and is willing to destroy rights to ... - paulagb

Do you think any characters get what they deserve? Did you find other characters' fates undeserved or unjust? (11 responses)

Who judges what another person deserves? Does a bad person deserve a bad fate and a good person deserve to be rewarded? Perhaps in a perfect world, but the world we live in is far from perfect - Junebug

Do you think that any of the characters strive to restore a feeling of human connection in the material world? Do they seek a sense of belonging and community because of that? (9 responses)

I agree with most of the comments that this novel just was not about community. It focused on individual desires and some interpersonal relationships. Those relationships were not strong or deep - paulagb

For such an accomplished businessman who is in general so sharp, why is Hunter so blind with regard to Colette? Do other characters misunderstand their own relationships? (20 responses)

Hunter is self-absorbed. He sees the world as turning around him. He desires Celeste, but at first, he sees her only as a servant---someone who will do his bidding. In fact, Celeste anticipates his wants before he completely articulates them himself - djcminor

Have you read Pavone's previous novel, The Expats, and if so, how do the books compare? Do any other authors come to mind whose writing styles are similar? (10 responses)

I read The Expats in May 2017 and enjoyed it very much which is the reason I requested this book. I did not like the book & had to force myself to finish it. The author chose to refer back to the 1st story over & over again. I did not find that helpful & most often distracting - marganna

How did the international setting add to the intrigue of the pot? How did the culture feel similar to or different from that of the US? Would the story have been different if set somewhere else? (11 responses)

I enjoyed the description of Paris and the way the author made you feel part of the culture. I think with so many unfortunate terrorist incidents in Europe it also added to the realistic aspect of the plot - cathyoc

How would you define Kate and Dexter's partnership and the love that exists between them? What, in your view, makes for a stable relationship or marriage? (12 responses)

Kate and Dexter felt more thrown together than truly in it for the love and relationship. They were very distant from each other emotionally. This is not what good relationships are made of. Every marriage has ups and downs, but from these two books, Kate and Dexter's relationship feels like more... - pnelson384

Hunter thinks to himself, "There are plenty of successful people who don't step on everyone else as they climb their ladders." Do you believe this is true? (18 responses)

I think there are successful people who do not step on others to get ahead, but we don’t always hear about them. These days we seem to hear more about how many people were stepped on for those getting ahead. It would be nice to hear more about those who didn’t step on others as they climbed the ... - SKB

If you could ask the author one question, what would it be? (11 responses)

Why couldn't one of the characters had some redeeming qualities - Junebug

Is there any difference between the type of terrorist attack outlined in the novel and the near-daily mass shootings in the United States? (11 responses)

There wasn't really a terrorist attack in the book. They staged a terrorist attack to achieve their financial goals. The daily shootings in the U.S. are committed by disturbed or angry individuals. They are not financially motivated - Junebug

Kate complains that teenage girls "know how to do mainly this one thing: look like they're having a great time in social-media photos…" Do you think this is a fair assessment of today's teenagers? (19 responses)

No it’s not a fair assessment. It’s a generalization and something of a stereotype. Teen girls are so much more than selfie posters - lc8558

Kate Moore states: 'Etiquette is a minefield,' describing ex-pats living in Paris. What do you believe this means? (8 responses)

I think she is referring to figuring out the 'rules of engagement' with others in a new culture, not wanting to offend anyone. She is trying to blend in smoothly and can't afford a mis-step - pnelson384

Knowing the characters (8 responses)

I posted a similar question earlier. I found while I had read the first book when it originally came out, I did have to go back and reread it to make sense of the locale and characters - hahiramom

Overall, what do you think of The Paris Diversion? (no plot spoilers in this thread please) (33 responses)

I liked the book, but I think I liked the first one more. It's also been a long time since I read the first book and I think that was a drawback for me in this one. She kept remembering what happened in Luxembourg, but I don't - lc8558

Pavone challenges readers to question their assumptions about terrorism. In The Paris Diversion, how do the perpetrators manipulate such preconceptions? How does the author manipulate readers? (7 responses)

Yes, juliaa! And I totally fell for Wyatt's excuse. Well, not completely, but I managed to have more understanding for why he decided to do what he did. Given all the health care debate happening since, well, Obamacare (and recent articles about the high cost of health care AFTER insurance), I ... - acstrine

Pavone writes that there is no such thing as safety for anyone, anywhere. Not anymore. Do you think this is true? (19 responses)

Was anyone ever 100% safe? A crane smashes into an apartment building killing a girl watching TV lying on her couch. I am sure she felt completely safe until she wasn't. We are only one text message away from a fatal car crash, one meal away from eating tainted food, one toppled candle or errant ... - Junebug

There are moments in which Kate feels conflicted between her family and professional life. Have you experienced similar tensions in your life? (14 responses)

I think that all parents are conflicted when work or home (parents, children) both tug on their time and energy. The difference is in our culture in the US, it is more often women who are criticized for their choices rather than supported (no matter what choices are made) - pnelson384

This (and Pavone's earlier book) challenge standard power dynamics and gender roles in marriage and the workplace. How did you find that applied to the characters here? (13 responses)

The challenge of power dynamics and /gender roles as applied to the characters in this book seemed forced. I wanted to like this story as I had The Expats but this story felt unbelievable and fabricated. Disappointed with the stereotype writing - marganna

Where do you see revenge as a driving force The Paris Diversion? How does vengeance reveal itself to enact injustice rather than right a wrong? Did you draw any messages about the moral importance of forgiveness? (7 responses)

Certainly Julia was after revenge through her entire scheme. The author even included a conversation she had about the need to set up Dexter for the crimes even though it made the whole scheme much more challenging. I didn't see a theme of forgiveness. The ending was wrapped up too too quickly ... - pnelson384

Wyatt comments, "Innocent doesn't mean you don't deserve to die. We all die, there's no deserve or don't deserve about it. Just a question of when, and how." What's your opinion about this statement? (13 responses)

Nobody gets out of this alive. We all do die and our guilt or innocence usually has little to do with it. Even if I agreed with this statement, who gets to decide our guilt or innocence? What are the criteria for deciding any person deserves to die? I think this more accurately could state "... - Junebug

"[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

Write your own review

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by 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.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Djcminor
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.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by 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.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by 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.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by VALERIE D CARUSO
Just okay
I never truly felt engaged in this book. Eventually , I figured out it was because none of the characters were likable, all had flaws, kind of like real life.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Leah
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.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by RebeccaR
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.

Chris Pavone's first novel, The Expats, was a New York Times bestseller, with twenty foreign editions and a major film deal, and received both the Edgar and Anthony awards for Best First Novel. The Accident (2014) and The Travelers (2016) were also national bestsellers. The Paris Diversion, a sequel to The Expats, was published in May 2019.

Chris grew up in New York City, attended Midwood High School in Brooklyn and Cornell University, and was a book-publishing editor for nearly two decades. He is married and the father of twin boys, and they all live in New York City with an Australian Labradoodle named Wally.

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