Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense
In 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?
Story Locale: Washington D.C., Northern VA
"Perfect Husband. Perfect Father. Perfect Liar."
Karen Cleveland's Need To Know is being sold as a ripped from the headlines debut novel by a seasoned CIA analyst. Cleveland apparently spent eight years as a CIA analyst, the last six in counter-terrorism. The author writes about Vivian Miller, a CIA Counter intelligence analyst, a wife, and mother who works in what's called the Russia Division. Her current job led her to create an algorithm that allows her to hack into the computer of a suspected Russian Spy named Yury Yakov.
But, while accessing Yury's computer and discovering a group of sleeper agents living in the US, Vivian also uncovers
something so damaging that it may end up shattering her world and cause her to lose everything that she's worked hard for. There is a huge plot revelation as soon as you open this book. No worries though, it isn't until much later in the book where the issue has to be dealt with in its entirety. In the meantime, we have to watch in agony as Vivian is forced to go against every thing she's ever stood for thanks to the lies and secrets from the man she loves.
Need to Know is a suspenseful book that will keep you focused on what is happening to Vivian as she struggles to keep her composure, keep her family together, and to not go down in flames like others have who have attempted to steal classified material and sell it to the Russians. This is a timely story for the most part. As I grew up during the Cold War, these sort of stories took the public by storm. I could never in a million years imagine how anyone, let alone someone who claims to love their country, would easily be swayed by Russians who use blackmail, and intimidation against those they target.
I would say that I think Cleveland gives the story a bit more realism having been in the same boat as Vivian. As a counter terrorism analyst, you are a prime target for Russian spies attempting to gain access to the most secretive aspects of what this country uses to protect not only its citizens, but to also attempt to stop another 9.11 from happening in our lifetime. But, I have a caveat for my rating and this is the reason for my rating.
After everything that happens to Vivian and her family, especially her older son, the author leaves a huge cliffhanger ending without resolving it. One could say it is a message to readers that they shouldn't get too comfortable with the way things were wrapped up. Or, one could say that you never can really know who is actually who they say they are, and who is actually someone else entirely.