A Book Spy Review: ‘Need To Know’ by Karen Cleveland

Need to know.jpgOn the surface, Vivian Miller has a happy, perfect life. But all of that’s about to change… 

A CIA analyst tasked with helping to identify and track Russian sleeper cells, Vivian has developed an algorithm that helps her do her job with unprecedented speed and precision. With a few clicks of her mouse, she’s able to pinpoint potential Russian operatives hiding in plain sight on American soil, and then dive into their lives, learning everything about them in real time.

While her effectiveness has her on the career fast-track, with a much-deserved promotion on the near horizon, Vivian is proud of the work she does — but is still left feeling guilty that her job keeps her away from her family as much as it does. Thankfully, she has a supportive husband, Matt, with whom she has four kids. They own a modest house in a nice suburb and generally lead happy and fulfilling lives.

One day, while pouring over a fresh batch of potential Russian sleeper cells, Vivian is confronted by a shocking revelation that threatens everything she believes in and everyone she loves. With her entire world suddenly turned upside down, Vivian struggles to balance her family life with her professional life, while scrambling to make sense of her options and how best to move forward.

Karen Cleveland turns heads with her thrilling debut, the rights of which have already been snatched up by Universal Pictures with Charlize Theron attached to play the lead role. Vivian Miller comes across as an average woman with plenty of relatable qualities. Any working parent can sympathize with her constant guilt about working long hours and not spending enough time with her children and spouse. Having worked as an analyst herself, Cleveland expands on that, giving readers a peek behind the curtain, showing the pressure cooker-like situation Vivian works and thrives in from day to day.

While she starts out an ordinary working individual, Vivian quickly morphs into a strong protagonist who grows with the story. That said, this isn’t a Vince Flynn type of storyline, as Cleveland tosses in a number of elements that makes Need to Know read, at times, like a psychological thriller that just so happens to touch on the world of spies and sleeper cells.

Falling somewhere between the Angelina Jolie action flick Salt and the popular television show The Americans, Karen Cleveland’s Need to Know is a terrific debut thriller that reads fast and has enough twists and turns to keep your pulse pounding from start to finish.

Book Details

Author: Karen Cleveland 
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1524797022
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10
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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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