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Publisher's Summary

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?

©2018 Karen Cleveland (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Prediction: If you read chapter one, you’ll read chapter two. If you read chapter two, you’ll miss dinner, stay up far too late, and feel tired at work tomorrow. This is that kind of book. Superb." (Lee Child)
" Need to Know carves out a uniquely compelling space among thrillers: high-stakes international intrigue combined with high-drama domestic suspense. These richly overlapping layers of tension create a fast-paced, relentlessly gripping read." (Chris Pavone, New York Times best-selling author of The Expats)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • pacience
  • DORCHESTER CENTER, MA, United States
  • 02-10-18

Complete waste of time

I could barely wait to finish this book before writing a review. My head hurts from rolling my eyes so much. It’s early in the year but this one is setting the bar high for worst book of the year. It was beyond patronizing and predictable with a main character so unbelievable as a competent CIA analyst as to rate being a fantasy book. Can I be more clear that I absolutely hated this book! If you like romance suspense such as a Lifetime or Hallmark movie type you might get through this book with a little less hate than I did but you’ll still feel like this author had no concept of how the CIA or FBI or for that matter any government agency works. The female lead character was possibly the dumbest character I’ve read to date to even have a job much less one as an
analyst. Complete waste of time.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Mr. and Mrs. Smith -- Not


Arrrggh...Can we talk? We've come so far lately. And then, along comes supposedly intelligent Vivian Miller, *dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst,* Mother of the Year, and possibly the worst thing to ever happen concerning our female representatives in the Intelligence Community. Authors love to give us beautiful, supposedly smart women that make incredibly dumb decisions, I get it--movie producers are probably thumbing through their index cards of beautiful sexy leading ladies as I write this. I know most of you will like this one; I liked it -- a little bit. But, every now and then I have to kick myself while reading, and Need to Know gave me that opportunity, to exercise my acrobatic moves while reading.

I'm not going to nitpick and lambast, and don't mean to dissuade anyone interested in this book because I was mindlessly entertained, while I pulled my hair out. I did stick it out through to the finish, which I don't do if I am offended or absolutely hate a book. However, I won't be picking up the obvious sequel (and Jason Matthews need not worry about any competition). Let me stress, it moved along well, kept me wondering, and would probably be a decent TV movie. Though most of the dialogue is Vivian's emotional distress, the crux of the story comes down to what we would do for our children -- or what impossible extremes we would face to keep our vision of a loving happy family together, especially when that ideology conflicts with the ideology of our profession.

The problem is the implausibilities far far outweigh the plausibilities, and you end up wondering how anyone that missed so many red flags at home got passed the first job interview with the CIA. It's difficult to explain my ire without giving away the major spoiler. Let's just say that if the Russian Provocateur had been a snake, Vivian would have died from venom and the Miller children would be without a mother.

The plot is flimsy, the details very vague and improbable, and the bulk of the book undermines Vivian's validity (as well as the security of our nation). If you are looking for a good spy thriller, a smart novel of espionage on the homefront, pass. If you want a book about a troubled marriage, sit down with Vivian, and a box of Kleenex.


15 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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A Bad Romance Novel

Too lazy to look for my next “listen while I do morning chores” from Audible, I recalled seeing this one in a small blurb in the NYT Sunday book section characterized (I thought) as an espionage novel, and grabbed it. Alas, the story is a “family first” fairy tale of true love, treason, and the most gullible imbecile ever to have cleared CIA screening. Seriously, there is so much wrong with this tale — the characters, the plot, the total disregard for what would actually happen at any one of the crisis points — that I would be embarrassed to be seen within a hundred feet of it if it were an actual book. On the other hand, if there is an award for “Most Irredeemably Clueless Protagonist of the 21st Century” I’m pretty certain that Viv has it cinched!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Boring

Had potential at first but then moved excruciatingly slow and unfortunately had an irritating narrator.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Taut from beginning to end

The tension never lets up in this thriller. I would have liked it more if the heroine had been more of a heroine and less of a victim. The narrator was very good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nerakay
  • Near St. Louis MO
  • 04-08-18

Quick and engaging plot

I really enjoyed the what-if plot.
I would be hard pressed to believe that's how things would have turned out in the end. I was glad for the last little doubt inserted into the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Worst book i ever read/listened to

What disappointed you about Need to Know?

If I could give this book negative stars I would. It had no real plot, suspense or character development. All were very shallow. The main character was supposed to be a professional CIA analyst but acted like a child continually questioning herself: “should I do this or should I do that?”

What was most disappointing about Karen Cleveland’s story?

Author’s presentation of information was not interesting or insightful! The book was poorly written. It appears to be an attempt to achieve a “Gone Girl” like novel with little success.

What didn’t you like about Mia Barron’s performance?

Her performance was adequate

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Need to Know?

I would have cut the entite book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

heroine gets tied to railroad tracks by bad men

Rarely have I hated a character as much as I hated the main character in NEED TO KNOW. How did a female former CIA analyst manage to write such a simpering naive idiot? If she'd ended up tied to railroad tracks by a dastardly criminal, it would not have surprised me. I stopped listening, jumped to the end to confirm I was correct (I got every single bad guy on my bingo card!) and felt actual anger over the time and money. It is the worst book I've encountered in a long time. Also, not an espionage, mystery, thriller or even suspenseful. It was a dime-store romance done poorly. Sadly, a good idea got killed in the process.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Plodding

Moved along at a very tractable pace. The character development was fairly unique. Stayed till the end just to see how author wrapped up the story line.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding Conundrum

Great characters, clever betrayals, a whale of a spy story. Absolutely believable. Terrific suspense.

Narration is pitch perfect!

5 of 7 people found this review helpful