If you would have asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was ten (also, last week probably) I would have said “travel writer” and then I would have said “or spy”. Chris Pavone obviously felt the same, because he wrote The Travelers: A Novel and it is awesome. If you are new to Pavone, I think my favorite is still his first novel, The Expats, but this was a bit more fun.
Our protagonist, Will Rhodes, is writer based in New York whose actual job is to fly around the world to eat and drink and sightsee and write about it for a magazine. Pretty much the best job I can think of and I wish I had a time machine to make that happen. While in Argentina covering regional wines (I know… and they pay him!) he makes some bad choices and winds up being blackmailed into working for what may or may not be the Central Intelligence Agency. He fights it a little, but not a lot, and begins carrying out espionage assignments for the organization all over the place, and we jet with him from Paris to Iceland to Dublin. He is so busy training to be a spy and trying to get away with being a spy that he barely notices that almost everyone around him, including his wife, has their own huge secrets.
Similar to watching a James Bond or Mission Impossible movie, the plot is convoluted. The espionage is a twisted confusing mess, you are never sure who works for whom, who is good or bad, and I would say optimistically I understood about 80% of it, but I was entertained 100% of the time. Those aren’t bad numbers. I’m not a huge fan of thrillers, but this is a smart, fun read and the pace is incredibly fast.
Grade – B+