Review: The Travelers – Chris Pavone

The Travellers Chris PavoneMy version: Paperback
Genre: Fiction Thriller
Faber & Faber (Penguin Random House)
First published: 2016

From the cover:

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 in 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 Bordeaux chateau to a midnight raid in Paris, from a Dublin dive-bar to a mega yacht in the Mediterranean and an isolated cabin perched on the cliffs of Iceland.

As Will is drawn further into a tangled web of international intrigue, it becomes clear 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.

A very readable, sometimes strange, sometimes hard to figure out, spy-ish novel, where no one, least of all us, is quite sure who anyone is really pretending to be.

It starts out all fairly normal, Will Rhodes is mostly happily married, and has what sounds like a perfect job, or one of the perfect jobs anyway. He’s a travel writer, who basically gets sent abroad (from the USA), to wine and be dined at all the wonderful places that are most people’s ‘bucket list.’ And he gets expenses. Back home, the wife is also a part-time writer, mostly freelance, and is also out and about a fair bit. They live in a big apartment, that needs renovating, and though they both know it, Will’s perfectionism (read, inability to make a decision), is delaying the project. Neither of them seem too happy with how they are right now, which kind of makes it no-one’s fault that Will is coerced into a one-night fling, and not really anyone’s fault when the wife decides to call time on the marriage and moves out, back to the mother. For the book, just when it seems all is becoming horrendously messed up, what is really happening begins to be a little more clear. And so we go on, until we find out that what we knew, what Will knew, isn’t what is actually going on, or why. I’ll not say much of anything more, as you’ll want to figure it out – or not – for yourself.

It’s well written, in a calm, objective, not exactly no-frills style, but in a way that tells you what is going on, but is also opaque enough, to keep you guessing and the surprises to – mostly – be surprises. It could be better, as I always seem to be thinking these days. I thought of a couple of ways, which would have fitted and been a little more edgy than what actually happens. Maybe I’m too convoluted for this here novel-writing game. But at least there’s no ‘You’re all wondering why I’ve gathered you here’ long explanation at the end, and nearly all of the airport-thriller tricks are absent, making it a thriller that does thrill, does entertain and does, mostly, deliver.

You can buy The Travelers from The Book Depository

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