Wednesday, May 25, 2022

TWO NIGHTS IN LISBON, latest thriller from Pavone delivers a little too much


MCD Books
$28.00 hardcover, available now

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: You think you know a person . . .

Ariel Pryce wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone—no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong.

She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new—much younger—husband?

The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask.

With sparkling prose and razor-sharp insights, bestselling author Chris Pavone delivers a stunning and sophisticated international thriller that will linger long after the surprising final page.


My Review
: Unreliable narrator tells unbelievable story with murky stakes attached to its outcome. And here I am giving it four stars.

Doesn't make sense, does it. Or does it....

What Author Pavone does is set the reader up for something from the get-go. Unlike many thriller writers, that "something" isn't glaringly obvious. What sets this thriller in motion is an older woman married to a handsome younger man. Who ups and disappears from their hotel room on an international trip.

Prepare the violins, right? Welllll...yes but not for her, as you'll see. Her fear at this catastrophe the authorities who look at her late-middle-aged self, see the muffin she's so recently married, and all but say out loud, "well, little lady, what exactly can you expect? Men do stray...and he's been gone less than a day. Give him time to sober up and pay the, um, lady. He'll be back." But she's not having it.

Why is she not having it? It does, after all, make a grim kind of sense. Before their short marriage, she didn't know her husband well...he's a relative stranger, so why is it she's carrying on so?

Wheels within wheels, and here we are rollin' along beside Ariel...has that name, one the lady chose for herself, made its real force felt in you yet? the story's necessary force carries us along, stopping for some info-dumpy conversations/monologues/set pieces. It's not like there's any point where Author Pavone sticks it to us, the sad little readers wondering what the living hell possessed this hard-edged survivor to do something so stupid as this mishegas results from. And both parties are hard-edged survivors. So what's the situation underlying the story? It's a thriller! You *know* there is one.

The phrase "ripped-from-the-headlines" is a cliche to my generation of Movie of the Week veterans. It got a bad name for shoddy, indifferent storytelling. But it never needed to be that way, did it. What happens that makes the newspapers is a joyous rioting street party of story plots. Read this one and find out what the right dance partner can give.

I can't give the book all five stars because, despite the clarity of storytelling purpose that snaps into focus as the ending twists us up, there is a prolixity of speechifyin' that really grated on me. (I'm lookin' at you, Griffiths.) And the Epilogue is just a shade over the top I most wanted not to go over. But the story is a deeply, involvingly, satisfyingly real one, and I encourage y'all to read it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.