Need to Know

Need to Know

A Novel

Book - 2018
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"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--is 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?"--Page 2 of dust jacket.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781524797041
Characteristics: 290 pages ; 25 cm


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Mar 15, 2018

This thriller is marred by a gullible, naive and extremely emotional main character. If you think the family life of a CIA analyst is more interesting than the actual work they do protecting the United States, then this book is for you.

Mar 14, 2018

This was such a fun read! I haven't read many domestic spy thrillers, but this was compelling.

Mar 11, 2018

First-time novelists always face many challenges. Plots become excessively elaborate or convoluted. The conventions of genre become oppressive and, in worst cases, cliche. And in such deeply established genres, like the international spy thrillers, there is always the struggle to carve out a unique voice, and to bend expectations sufficiently to hold interest without slipping too far into the wholly derivative.
Karen Cleveland does a masterful job in skirting most of these obstacles in Need to Know. Right when you think she has made a misstep (the "too quick" confession of the husband), you soon realize that the decision was very strategic, allowing for each subsequent flashback to add density to the doubts that begin to plague her protagonist. And as these doubts build, Cleveland twists and turns the plot with (generally) a delicate touch, bringing in enough familiarity to satisfy thriller fans but with enough new wrinkles to add keep the pages turning. And whereas the ending might (a) frustrate some readers and (b) seem to be going down an all-too-conventional path of reconciliation, I would argue instead that it is a final stroke rendered with confidence and flair that loads meaning into the final single word of a novel in a way that we do not see often enough.
And note to self: investing in a burner phone company seems a great investment given how often these characters go through them.

Mar 02, 2018

I was really looking forward to reading this book after seeing it included in many book emails I get. The writing was good but was disappointed that she found out about her husband so early in the story. The ending was pretty cool though.

Feb 22, 2018

This was a book that I did not want to put down. It's not literary in any way, but it's suspenseful and well written. My only complaint was that the ending was cheesy. I highly recommend this book for an entertaining read.

Jan 15, 2018

I thoroughly enjoyed this fast paced thriller! Here is a link to my review:

Jun 20, 2017

I will be curious whether this book by a former CIA analyst is in any way relevant.
The best thing I have seen on Russian espionage in the last 20 years was an extensive recent article by the British investigative journalist, Heidi Blake, in Buzzfeed, titled:
From Russia With Blood - - truly fascinating!!!
Most interesting is that a similar series of murders took place in the 1980s with a similar MO, also in the London and UK area, but that time it involved scientists and engineers involved in contracted work on Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative [Star Wars program]. At that time, when those murders took place, Vladimir Putin was with the KGB, and today, when these newer murders are taking place, Putin is running Russia!


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