Maggie Braun Contributing writer
Kate Moore is not a typical mother of two young boys. She works for the CIA, and was an agent before she met her husband, Dexter.
She continues as an agent, though no longer in the field, but instead of telling him about her career, she lets him believe she writes essays for a think tank.
Dexter’s job involves bank security — high-tech bank security. Kate doesn’t know exactly what he does because like her, he doesn’t go into many details and the details he does share with her are too technical for her to understand.
Dexter told told her he received a job offer with a huge pay jump — nearly half a million dollars — along with living expenses and bonuses.
But the job is in Luxembourg — and they would have to move in a matter of weeks.
Kate resigns from the CIA, and the family settles into an apartment in Luxembourg.
As a former intelligence agent, Kate can handle surprises, but she nevertheless scrambles to make her way in a country in which she doesn’t fully understand the language and doesn’t know anyone except Dexter, who is always busy.
So she joins a social club, the AWL — American Women’s Group — of Luxembourg. There she meets another recent ex-patriot, Julia Maclean, who says she’s from Chicago.
They strike up a friendship and complain that their husbands — Julie’s husband is named Bill — work too much. When Dexter and Kate travel to Copenhagen for the weekend, they are surprised that Julia and Bill show up at the restaurant and suggest a night out while a babysitter at the hotel tends to the boys.
After a night of many drinks and dancing, their group is accosted by two men, one of whom has a gun.
Bill outmaneuvers the thugs with some nifty moves, and the couples escape unscathed.
Bill’s skill and poise impress Kate and leave her suspicious, as does the fact that Bill and Julie happened to be in Copenhagen.
Still, Dexter likes Bill, and they become friends and regular tennis partners.
Kate can’t quell her suspicions about Julia and Bill; she searches their identities online and comes up empty. The website for Julia’s interior design company seems curiously skimpy without even phone numbers or addresses.
On a visit to their apartment, Kate discovers that it overlooks the palace of Luxembourg’s grand duke, and she begins to wonder if they are assassins. It would be an easy shot from their apartment to the palace.
Kate enlists the help of one of her spy friends to investigate the Macleans and finds out that they are FBI agents. Worse, she finds out that Julia and Bill have Kate and Dexter under surveillance because they are investigating Dexter. Could his job helping banks prevent theft be an elaborate cover for large-scale bank theft?
Could this man she has been married to for a decade have kept such secrets from her — someone who has been trained to sniff them out?
Then she admits, it isn’t as if he would be the only spouse keeping secrets.
Kate must decide whether to tell Dexter what she knows or decide that he is a thief who needs to be caught.
The story takes some fascinating turns and hopscotches from Luxembourg to Switzerland, Paris and other sites.
Chris Pavone writes a story that starts quietly enough but builds with each page to a thrilling, and satisfying, conclusion. The author, who lived for a time in Luxembourg, was a book editor and ghostwriter for almost 20 years; that expertise shows in his first novel.
Maggie Braun is a teacher at Manhattan High School.