“Need to Know”, by Karen Cleveland

Ooh! This is a good one!

Vivian Miller is an analyst with the CIA, specializing in Russian affairs. For the last several years she has been focusing on identifying sleeper cells of Russian agents in the United States. It’s stressful work that often requires long hours. It can make juggling her home life with her husband and four young kids really difficult. Luckily, she’s married to Matt, the perfect husband and father. Or is he? (queue the dramatic music)

Vivian and Matt live a life that will resonate with a lot of people in young dual income households. They juggle childcare responsibilities, over-extended themselves on a house for the sake of a good school district, worry about layoffs and the loss of health insurance, and try to always do the best things for their kids. Vivian longs to take time off from work so she can spend more time with her kids. It hurts that their children appear to favor Matt, whose job allows him more flexibility to shoulder more of the child rearing duties. But Vivian is also extremely grateful for the partner she has in Matt. He is loving, attentive and responsible – the family’s rock in the sometimes stormy waters of trying to manage and nurture a young family.

Then Vivian uncovers some information about her perfect husband that throws her into an unthinkable situation that forces her to choose between her family and her country. A really well written spy thriller ensues. But that’s all I’m going to say about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

I truly enjoyed this novel and find myself still thinking about it several days after I finished it. I think the term “page turner” is over used, but by golly, this book is a genuine, honest to God page turner. A lot of it had to do with how completely relatable these people and their situation in life were. They weren’t glamorous James Bond types. They were parents who changed poopy diapers and worried about who would pick up the kids from daycare. That got to me as a reader and had me wondering what on earth I would do had I been in Vivian’s shoes. Luckily, I’ll never have to find out. Or will I? (nah)

Put “Need to Know” on your summer reading list and enjoy the ride. You won’t be disappointed. (P.S. Bonus – it’s fairly short.)

This put me in the mood to read more spy thrillers. Know of any good ones? Please share in the comments section.


4 thoughts on ““Need to Know”, by Karen Cleveland

  1. Sold! I trust you implicitly in this genre especially because I know it’s a favorite. Thanks for the tantalizing review! One of the members of my biography writers group sent an email with lots of spy thriller recs. I’ll forward it to you….

    Liked by 1 person

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