Title: Need to Know
Author : Karen Cleveland
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group (Ballantine Books)
Publication Date: 01/23/18
Date Read: 12/22/17
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Let me start out by saying that I read this novel in just ONE day. That may not mean a lot to some people, but trust me… if you met my hyperactive almost-two-year-old.. you would wonder how I get anything done in one day, much less the reading of an entire novel.
This novel is face-paced and action-packed. I read suspense, thriller, and crime-related novels on a very frequent basis and one of the things I loved the most about this novel was it’s unique plot. Maybe I have just somehow missed all the titles similar to this, but I have never read another novel about CIA counterintelligence, especially not in the context that it is presented in this storyline.
“How long have you been working for the Russians?’ I say.
The words are raw, unprocessed. But they’re out now… ”
Vivian Miller is a CIA analyst, working on a special project that focuses on uncovering Russian sleeper spies that are ‘hiding in plain sight’ on United States soil. She has scarified so much of her life for her career, especially her desire to stay home with her four children, but she is edging closer to a big break that she hopes will make everything worth this one big moment. She has developed a computer program, Athena (goddess of wisdom and military victory– tip of the hat for clever naming Karen Cleveland), that allows her to access the computer of suspected Russian operatives.
On this particularly ordinary day, when Vivian accesses the computer of a potential handler, she discovers a simple, but obviously important, file. This file is labeled ‘friends’ and contains five photos. No other information, just five photos. With her prior knowledge of the Russian sleeper cells in the United States, Vivian knows that these must be the five sleeper spies that are operating under this particular handler. As she opens each of the photos in succession, her entire world is stood on end.
“I put my fingertips to my temples. The ringing in my head
won’t stop. It’s like something’s there, some realization, only it’s
so awful I can’t wrap my head around it, can’t acknowledge
it’s real, because my whole world will come crashing down.”
Vivian is faced with multiple incredibly tough decisions that could consequently destroy her career, her marriage, her freedom, her loyalty–even her children, the most important part of her life. There never seems to be an ‘easy way’ or ‘right way’ out of every situation, placing Vivian in a true Catch-22 situation at every twist and turn of the novel.
“Sometimes we think that shielding the truth will protect those we love the most.”
I am predicting a wide-spread popularity in support of this novel after it’s release in January 2018. There isn’t much more you could ask for when it comes to an action-packed suspense novel for the every-day reader. The novel is from the perspective of a busy mother of four, belonging to an ordinary and loving marriage, with just the right mixture of technical terms and information related to the CIA. This combination makes the storyline and raw emotions that are displayed highly approachable for readers who like to relate to their main character(s).
A few fun facts that I feel the need to share:
- If you are unsure of what a sleeper spy is–I recommend some light research (aka: Google) before starting this novel. The author never really provides background knowledge to this term in the beginning of the novel. Maybe I’ve just been living under a rock… but I did not know what a sleeper spy was, and I like to have all of my ‘ducks in a row’ when it comes to contextual facts in a novel.
- The author, Karen Cleveland actually worked for the CIA as an analyst for eight years! She focused primarily on conterterrorism, which is obvious in this novel, given her background knowledge about her content.
- Universal Pictures has already put plans in place to develop a film for this novel, staring Charlize Theron. I did not know this tidbit of information until after I finished the novel and now I am so very excited to see this come to fruition.
- This novel leaves a sneaky little open door to a sequel at the end.. which makes me one happy reader!
This is a review for the Kindle (digital) version of Need to Know. I received an advanced digital copy of this novel via NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group (Ballantine Books) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions reflected in this review are my own and were in no way influenced by the opportunity to provide an advanced reading review.