Monday, 15 January 2018

Need to Know

Author: Karen Cleveland
Genre: Suspense
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 286
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Ballantine Books (Penguin Random House Canada)
First Published: January 23, 2018
First Line: "I stand in the doorway of the twins' room and watch them sleep, peaceful and innocent, through crib slats that remind me of bars on a prison cell".

Book Description from GoodReadsIn pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a dangerous secret that will test her loyalty to the agency--and to her family.

What do you do when everything you trust might be a lie?

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. On track for a much-needed promotion, she's developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America's borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her--her job, her husband, even her four children--are threatened.

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she's facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?

My Rating: 4.5 stars

My Review: When I received my advanced copy of this book there was no blurb on the back. The only description was that it was debut novel that's 'impossible to describe without spoilers' and included a comment from author Lee Child that once you read one chapter you'll be hard pressed to put the book down.

I have to agree with Mr Child.

This book took over my life for a day and a half. Normally, I don't read spy novels, but I was intrigued by the hype and soon found myself hooked. The story focuses on Vivian Miller, a CIA counterintelligence analyst who works to identify Russian sleeper spies living in the US. She soon becomes tangled in an increasingly dangerous plot that threatens not only national security but her life and the lives of her family.

This book will keep you reading into the week hours with its high energy, tension-filled plot loaded with twists, culprits and Vivian's increasing paranoia. The author, a former CIA intelligence analyst herself, brings an authenticity to Vivian's character from a professional standpoint and readers are also pulled into Vivian's family life which plays a pivotal role.

There were a few times that Vivian seemed too naïve for someone in such a top-secret position and sometimes the family scenes interrupted the tension and flow but other than those two small issues this was an amazing read. Towards the end I thought we'd have an easy, predictable ending but Cleveland pulls out some final twists which left me muttering 'Well played, Karen Cleveland. Well played".

While this is a perfect read for fans of political/spy thrillers, it will also appeal to fans of suspense who enjoy short chapters that entice readers to read 'just one more chapter'.  Engrossing and well-paced, this impressive debut shows the sophistication and depth of spy agencies and also touches on personal issues of trust, betrayal, loyalty and the depths one will go to protect their own.

Note: The buzz surrounding this book has already caught Hollywood's attention - it's been optioned for a movie starring Charlize Theron (who will also produce the film).

Disclaimer: This ARC was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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