"The Travelers" (Crown), by Chris Pavone
Chris Pavone's latest novel, "The Travelers," showcases international locales with reluctant spies.
Writer Will Rhodes works for Travelers magazine, and his duties take him around the world. He's married to Chloe, who deserves better since Will utilizes his charm to get the story and enjoys being in the company of beautiful women. Surprisingly, even though his marriage is starting to crumble, he hasn't cheated. Yet.
Temptation wins when Will meets Elle, an Australian fashion model. The next morning he discovers he's been set up. Ellie isn't a model, and their passionate night was a lie. To insure that Chloe doesn't find out, Will must now utilize his job to spy for the CIA. And keeping his missions secret from his wife will strain their marriage.
The first quarter of "The Travelers" has too many characters and situations to resolve, and Will Rhodes and the other characters are a bit hard to like. Pavone finally kicks up the narrative when Will is forced to become a spy — and things become interesting.
Even with all of the unpredictability, reliance on coincidence and strained credulity after Will is recruited, the ending is telegraphed from a mile away, hinting at possible future stories.
However, despite all the issues surrounding the story, nobody brings the human aspect of the spy world into focus better than Pavone, and his stellar writing carries the day.