I consider myself an equal opportunity reader but on occasion, I come across a book belonging to a genre I have barely, if ever, touched. I was recently in my local Barnes & Noble Booksellers store, an unnecessary but still tasty cafe mocha in my hand, ambling along the aisles of discounted hardcover novels at the front of the store. There were the usual suspects filling the overstock shelves. James Patterson always has several titles in this section because the man writes a book a month it seems. One or two of Nora Roberts's recent releases beckoned passersby with their colorful covers. A stack of Stephen King waited to creep the heck out of someone. This time, however, my eye was drawn to a new cover I had never seen before, a pale blue background picturing the undersides of passenger airliners in a pattern that made it look like desktop wallpaper. In bold red, an author's name with which I was unfamiliar, and the book title which partially covered the face of a man in a suit standing in a pose that suggested he was on his way somewhere but something to his left had startled him. Next to the man and facing away from him and me, a woman in a coat with upturned collar looking like she is probably up to something. I cannot explain what about this image intrigued me, but I shifted my cafe mocha to my other hand, picked up the book and read the front cover flap. A spy thriller. I pursed my lips in contemplation. I enjoy spy films--the Mission: Impossible series, the underappreciated Brad Pitt/Robert Redford film Spy Game, and the film that made Brangelina a thing, Mr. and Mrs. Smith--but I could not recall ever reading a spy novel. I have seen several James Bond films, but I have never read any of Ian Fleming's work. Did I read Patriot Games in high school? I do not recall finishing it, probably because school work got in the way as it got in the way of everything. No, I could not think of a single spy novel I had ever read or even really wanted to read yet I held in my hands a hardcover copy of Chris Pavone's The Travelers and I was inexplicably drawn to it. And it was heavily discounted. And I had a coupon that specifically stated it could be applied to my entire purchase including already discounted items. I had consumed half of my cafe mocha and it was fueling a blood sugar spike that made me feel reckless and adventurous. Into the shopping basket the book went.
I started reading The Travelers within a few weeks of bringing it home, which is rare. Usually when I buy a book, I bring it home and it lives in a stack of unread books for a ridiculous period of time. For some reason, I wanted to read this one as soon as possible. If you intend to read The Travelers, dedicate time to it. I started the book in April and finished July 3 and during that time, I read three other books and listened to four audiobooks. Audiobooks are my drive time entertainment (Safety first, kids! Don't read and drive!) and the three physical books were for a book club so those were priority. It is not as though The Travelers did not hold my interest. I just made the mistake of reading it just I began participating in the book club so my leisure reading time was practically nonexistent. So learn from my mistake and mainline The Travelers. There are enough moving parts here that the story deserves your full attention. I enjoyed the story, but because I read it in fits and starts, sometimes with several days or even weeks between reading sessions. I would find myself lost and trying to recall who certain important supporting characters were. Once I focused my attention on the book though, I was so entertained by it that I read the final sixty percent of it in less than a week.
Will Rhodes is a travel writer working for the New York-based print magazine TRAVELERS. During an assignment in St Emilion, France, Will meets an attractive young Australian journalist named Elle Hardwick. The attraction is mutual and intense, but Will is a married man. Still, Elle's allure is powerful and he has a difficult time maintaining his composure and his fidelity. Unfortunately for Will, he meets Elle again on assignment in Argentina where Will's life is fundamentally changed and he embarks on a dangerous and deadly globetrotting adventure. This is one of those "trust nobody" situations and Will learns his lessons the hard way.
The Travelers progresses at a rapid pace with many scenes lasting just a page or two before the reader is whisked away to a new location or a new character perspective, each of which endeavor to tangle the web and confound the reader. Some scenes were so brief and so vague that when they were over, I was left with a "wait, what?" sensation. While that might discourage some readers, it invigorated me. I just knew that unnamed character who just waltzed into the story and said something cryptic was going to pop up again later and I wanted to know more so I kept reading, often well past my bedtime. The conclusion of the story is exciting and satisfying and I was sorry when it was over. The book is a fun ride and I am happy that I finally found a healthy chunk of time to devote to it. Chris Pavone is definitely on my watch list now and I want to check out his debut novel, The Expats.