Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we will be discussing a thriller called Two Nights In Lisbon by Chris Pavone – without giving any spoilers away, of course. This book was just okay for me. I liked the story line well enough but the writing style of Pavone didn’t do it for me and there were some parts that dragged on SO hard. I’ll let you be the judge of it if you read it! Before we begin, I will be placing a big fat trigger warning on Two Nights In Lisbon as it deals with sexual assault and violence. Now, let’s get to it:
Ariel Pryce is nearing fifty and is newly married to John. He is handsome, successful, and ten years her junior. Ariel owns a small farm and local bookstore and is looking forward to her new life with her husband and tweenage son, George. Things seem picture perfect now but that hasn’t always been the case for Ariel. Her current life is a humble one, which is a far cry from her previous life as a New York City socialite with her ex-husband. Ariel paid a highly traumatizing price for her past wealth and fame at the hands of her ex’s business partner. She has been working hard on letting go of the worst time of her life and can’t wait to have a getaway with John in Lisbon, Portugal for one of his business trips.
Ariel and John’s first day in Portugal is amazing and filled with sight seeing, delicious food, and romance. Although Ariel was originally wary of this trip and leaving George with her mom, she realizes a little vacation might just be exactly what she needs. The newlyweds head to bed after a long day and fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow. Then, when Ariel wakes up the following morning, John is nowhere to be found.
At first, Ariel thinks that her husband went for a walk and will be back shortly. She calls him to confirm but his phone goes straight to voicemail and he hasn’t even bothered to leave a note. As the hours tick by, panic mode takes over Ariel and she starts fearing the worst. It’s hard not to when she’s in a foreign country, doesn’t speak the language, and she can’t find her husband. The logical place to go is the police. However, the two officers won’t report John missing yet since he has only been gone for a few hours. They also imply, much to Ariel’s distaste, that maybe she doesn’t know her husband as well as she thinks.
Refusing to simply wait around for word from John, Ariel next heads to the American embassy where she hears more of the same thing. It isn’t until a man on a motorcycle hands Ariel a burner phone demanding three million euros as a ransom for John that people start taking her seriously. Despite her husband’s success, they don’t have that kind of money and Ariel has no idea who to call to help. Well… She does. It’s just that she really doesn’t want to.
As the police and the CIA work the case, they have a vague idea of who it might be that Ariel called as well as extorted for the ransom. And, if it is who they think it is, then they have a major issue of national security on their plates because her call just proved that the future vice president of the United States can be extorted. Is John’s kidnapping a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or is it a carefully constructed plot to bring one of Ariel’s attackers to justice? Read Two Nights In Lisbon to find out!
For the first two hundred or so pages of Two Nights In Lisbon, I was really into it. This book moved at a fast pace and began with John being kidnapped right from the jump. It was nerve wracking to read as Ariel navigated through Lisbon and essentially tried to solve the crisis herself, knowing that law enforcement wasn’t completely on her side. Then, it started getting very convoluted very quickly. Between the local law enforcement, CIA, FBI, and journalists on the case, I found it difficult to keep track of everyone. Breaks in the case, new details, and new people all became muddled together and I was ready for the book to end about halfway through.
I feel torn about this book because I actually really liked the story line and grand reveal. I also am all for the overall message that is being conveyed. I just wasn’t a huge fan of Chris Pavone’s writing. In this book, he was quite fond of going into paragraph long litanies that were essentially one big run on sentence. It drove me crazy! The wordiness bogged down the reading experience and I felt like so much of it could have been eliminated, which would have made for a smoother read. In fact, if it was a different author who wrote the book, I probably would have liked it way more.
One praise that I do have for Two Nights In Lisbon is Ariel’s character. She is a bonafied badass and even though I didn’t love how the book was written, I was still in her corner all the way till the end. Ariel is such a strong, brave heroine and I liked that she was both book and street smart. There were so many times throughout the book when I was thinking “good for her” and those were my thoughts once I read the final page too.
Overall, I am going to rate Two Nights In Lisbon with a five out of ten star rating. There was a lot about this book that I enjoyed and would have rated it much higher had I connected more with Pavone’s writing. I suppose I would recommend it simply for the fact that the grand reveal was pretty awesome. However, you’re not missing out on anything if you choose to skip this one!
What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah