Need to Know

Need to Know

A Novel

Book - 2018
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A chilling psychological thriller from a CIA insider: in hot pursuit of a Russian spy ring on U.S. soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a deadly secret that will test her loyalty to the agency--and to her family. The Expats meets The Americans meets The Girl Before.

Vivian and Matt are a seemingly normal suburban couple, experiencing the same struggles as many North American families: juggling work and children, budgeting for a house in a decent school district. They're in love and life is good. Though Vivian can't share much about her CIA assignment with him, Matt has always been supportive, and his job as a software engineer allows him the flexibility needed to raise their four kids. But when she makes a startling discovery researching the CIA's Russian account, everything about her life and her marriage is cast in a new light--forcing her to make impossible and dangerous choices before she loses her job, her family and her life.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, ©2018.
ISBN: 9780385690904
Characteristics: 290 pages ;,24 cm

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l
LG27
May 01, 2018

Karen Cleveland’s frost novel, Need to Know, is an unusual thriller page-turner, interweaving a threat to national security CIA tradecraft with a threat to the integrity of a family. Timely, it involves Russian spying and infiltration of U.S. intelligence networks. It combines spousal suspicions and betrayal with the need for a family’s self-preservation sought though the couple’s need for exoneration. I’m usually onto a solution in a story of this type, but the ending was a real surprise to me.

n
NedSu
Apr 26, 2018

I try to be supportive of first time authors. After all they could move on the becoming a successful writer, and deliver more books for me to read. I think this author does have potential- she presents a very interesting story about espionage in the United States. Unfortunately she chose a first person narrative and the protagonist was so filled with angst that the story suffered in her telling. She was mostly a character who had things happen to her and was not the heroine of the tale. It was like watching flotsam swirling in the vortex of a tornado.

As for the epilogue that further supports my tornado analogy, I think that is another error. While it may presage a sequel, unless the protagonist takes more control of her life, it is a novel that I will not be reading

l
LaurieAaland
Apr 17, 2018

Excellent debut novel. I couldn't put it down.

h
hirshybar
Apr 15, 2018

I'm usually shy about posting anything, but this is another book of the merry-go-round type with a sequel embedded in its epilog(ue).Are these books written to prove that one can finish a book.Are these books written to hope for a decent check, for the poor humiliated reader to spend a year doing nothing but wait for a sequel. Was Omar a Russian too? Oooh! What did he mean by "Da?"James Fennimore Cooper ended The Pathfinder with 2 paragraphs that had little to do with previous paragraphs and chapters. And there were 5 Natty Bumpo books. Maybe Omar's secret life will be the genus of the sequel. Couldn't take too much more of Viv.

j
jazpur
Apr 04, 2018

There's a lot of it going around - lying that is. I think as a domestic spy thriller, this one worked well from its clever title and complimentary artwork on the cover, right to the end.All that cloak and dagger with up-to- the minute technology.

b
Butterfly121761
Mar 26, 2018

I think another title would be more suitable for this book. For her debut novel though I thought it was very well done. Kept my interest throughout. I'd read her next novel for sure!

d
daysleeper236
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.

e
EndsWell
Mar 14, 2018

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

k
KlayDyer
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.

c
Clamato
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.

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