2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 6 books toward her goal of 240 books.

Book Review: Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

“I’m overcome with a strange sensation, a feeling that we dodged a bullet but that somehow, inexplicably, I’m bleeding.”

I LOVED this book… I seem to be on a Russia kick lately, and have always loved spy books, so this was just the right book at the right time. I am captivated by stories in which regular life is revealed to be precarious, balanced on a knife-edge of outright lies, secrets and not-quite-the-truths – in which good people find themselves in horrid situations that snowball… I’m fascinated by the psychology of it all, but also by the mystery – the idea that there is a seamy underbelly to even the most banal-seeming life. And even more than that, I’m fascinated to see if and how people dig themselves out of the holes they find themselves in when their lives turn out to be not at all what they thought they were…

Karen Cleveland offers all of that in spades in this excellently paced and plotted novel. And if that wasn’t enough, the characters are fantastic too. Everyone is a little battered and windblown, clinging with desperate fingers to the things they need to hold on to in order to keep their world intact. As Viv’s story unfolds and we get tidbits of her and Matt’s history, it is difficult not to want to grab her and shake her and scream in her face that there were a thousand clues that things were not what they seemed and that she – a CIA counterintelligence analyst – should have seen them from a mile away. But then the story would dip back into the present, the day-to-day routine of children and work and real life, and I’d wind up chastising myself, asking how many little things we all encounter throughout a decade of marriage and life that would look like gigantic red flags from the pole position of hindsight (and of the omniscient narrator and/or reader to whom much has already been revealed)… That delicacy in storytelling style – the ability to make me feel like I’m there with Viv, living her life, feeling her pain, even when I am still aware that I’m a separate entity who knows that this is a story and therefore more trouble MUST be coming – is part of what made this book so great for me. It really helped keep the suspense taut and the pages turning…

Karen Cleveland is definitely on my list of Authors to Watch!

My review copy was provided by NetGalley. Need to Know releases on January 23, 2016.

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