‘Paris’ brings terrorism fears to life

‘Paris’ brings terrorism fears to life

In the book world, the espionage thriller is the milieu of male readers. In other words, Chris Pavone’s latest, “The Paris Diversion,” could be considered a “guy” book.

But not so fast. I just finished “The Paris Diversion” and am here to tell you it is a guy and gal book. (I can’t believe I just wrote that.)

Pavone’s forte is the old shell game but played with words. Now you see him or her; now you don’t. Now you get it; now you don’t. Is it a terrorist plot, or not? It has all the makings of a terrorist plot but go back to the title: “The Paris Diversion.” And that is the only clue you’ll get from me.

What I loved about this thriller, aside from the snappy writing, is that the protagonist is a woman. I don’t read a lot of mysteries or thrillers, so don’t step up and tell me there are many espionage thrillers with women in key roles.

Pavone’s Kate Moore (one of many aliases) is not only a real spy who can use a weapon, lie, steal and lie (a lot of that going on), but she is also a woman with a husband and two kids, one who suffers from what appears to be asthma. In other words, she is dealing with a lot of things we all deal with in our lives – except for the spy thing. Kate’s is a stressful life. Add to that her husband, Dexter, who is a bit of a dangerous jerk who involves himself in some risky and highly illegal financial escapades. Dexter lies a lot, too.

Paris becomes not the City of Lights, but the city of fear. The most beloved of Paris’s sites, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, a major subway, a train station, have been threatened. A dark-skinned man wearing a bomb vest near the dome at the Louvre has placed a metal briefcase on the ground in front of him. Police and national security believe it holds a dirty bomb. He stands rigid for hours while police snipers wait for orders.

Who is he? Why are the police waiting? What do the terrorists want? Is there a connection between the terrorists and a kidnapped billionaire businessman who is expected to make a major financial announcement that afternoon? Is this political? Is it financial? Is it pay-back? If so, for whom? What is Kate’s involvement? How do all the players (and there are many and not all in Paris) fit?

This is an action story, on foot, on moped, on bike and boat, but mostly en panique. Pavone is a master of the high-speed unexpected. The author clearly understands that panic and fear, relative to money and bombs, can be one and the same. Espionage, another word for contrived lies and liars, can kill you – or the people you love.

Sunny Solomon is a freelance writer and head of the Clayton Book Club. Visit her website at
bookinwithsunny.com for her latest recommendations or just to ‘talk books.’