The Travelers, by Chris Pavone****

thetravelersChris Pavone is rapidly becoming a huge name in the psychological thriller genre. He is king when it comes to suspense; I was lucky enough to read the DRC for The Accident, his very successful mind-bender that came out in 2013. I was impressed enough by it that I also picked up his first novel, The Expats, on my annual pilgrimage to Powell’s City of Books in Portland. And so when I saw this little gem dangling on Net Galley, I wanted it right away, because Pavone had already shown me twice that he is a strong writer. Thank you Net Galley and Crown for the terrific read; I got this free in exchange for my review.

Will Rhodes works for a travel magazine, a journalist in a dying industry. He flies hither and yon, sampling food at promising little bistros; he knocks around the European countryside searching for the perfect photo, the little out-of-the-way piece of paradise no one else has written about. And while he is abroad, he makes a mistake, one that will come back to disrupt his life immeasurably. That’s how most spies are recruited: not out of patriotism or any ideological sense of mission, but in order to keep one’s darkest business concealed. Play it our way, friend, and nobody’s gotta know what you did.

Will’s boss Malcolm is also his closest friend. Well, he thinks so, anyway. There are a few things Will doesn’t know about Malcolm. He doesn’t know about the secret room. He doesn’t know to what extent he’s being monitored.

Will and his wife are trying for a baby, but there are things about Chloe he doesn’t know, too.

At the story’s outset, I began to feel as if the book was more about who sleeps with whom, and who knows what about each other’s sex life, than it was a thriller. I was ready to throw up my hands at one point, but I knew Pavone’s work and trusted that there must be a reason for all this, and oh my, yes there is. We can’t get to the spy versus spy material without going into all those hotel rooms.

The ending was deeply satisfying, if a trifle unlikely. We believe it could happen this way because Pavone has sold us the rest of the story, and so we follow him up one rocky cliff side and down another to the denouement.

This captivating thriller is available for purchase March 8, 2016. Put it on your list.

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