Need to Know (Cleveland)

Need to Know 
Karen Cleveland, 2018
Random House
304 pp.
ISBN-13:
9781524797027


Summary
Perfect husband. Perfect father. Perfect liar?

In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, CIA analyst Vivian Miller uncovers a dangerous secret that will threaten her job, her family—and her life. 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—is 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? (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Karen Cleveland spent eight years as a CIA analyst, focusing on counterterrorism and working briefly on rotation to the FBI. She has master’s degrees from Trinity College-Dublin (international peace studies) and Harvard University (public policy). Cleveland lives in northern Virginia with her husband and two young sons. This is her first novel. (From the publishers.)



Book Reviews
The Russia page-turner that should be on everyone’s list.
New York Post


Cleveland’s assured if thinly plotted debut is an unusual mix of family drama and spy thriller.… The deep backstory may attract readers not usually drawn to espionage novels, but thriller fans who like tradecraft and action will have to look elsewhere.
Publishers Weekly


(Starred review.) This pulse-hammering first novel plays fiendishly with interagency cooperation between the CIA and the FBI.… Having worked for the FBI and CIA, debut author Cleveland peppers her book with apparently impeccable tradecraft details. —Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA
Library Journal


(Starred review.) This is a compelling debut about a timely issue.… Perfect for fans of Shari Lapena’s thrillers and Chris Pavone’s The Expats (2012), and for just about everyone who loves the thrill of finding themselves in a book that can’t be put down.
Booklist


Cleveland was herself a CIA analyst, so she knows her way around secrets…. The problem is that the characters lack human development.… If you don't expect a deeply thoughtful thriller, you'll get carried away by the action enough to enjoy it.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, please use our GENERIC MYSTERY QUESTIONS to start a discussion for Need to Know … then take off on your own:



GENERIC DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Mystery / Crime / Suspense Thrillers

1. Talk about the characters, both good and bad. Describe their personalities and motivations. Are they fully developed and emotionally complex? Or are they flat, one-dimensional heroes and villains?

2. What do you know...and when do you know it? At what point in the book do you begin to piece together what happened?

3. Good crime writers embed hidden clues in plain sight, slipping them in casually, almost in passing. Did you pick them out, or were you...clueless? Once you've finished the book, go back to locate the clues hidden in plain sight. How skillful was the author in burying them?

4. Good crime writers also tease us with red-herrings—false clues—to purposely lead readers astray? Does your author try to throw you off track? If so, were you tripped up?

5. Talk about the twists & turns—those surprising plot developments that throw everything you think you've figured out into disarray.

  1. Do they enhance the story, add complexity, and build suspense?
  2. Are they plausible or implausible?
  3. Do they feel forced and gratuitous—inserted merely to extend the story?

6. Does the author ratchet up the suspense? Did you find yourself anxious—quickly turning pages to learn what happened? A what point does the suspense start to build? Where does it climax...then perhaps start rising again?

7. A good ending is essential in any mystery or crime thriller: it should ease up on tension, answer questions, and tidy up loose ends. Does the ending accomplish those goals?

  1. Is the conclusion probable or believable?
  2. Is it organic, growing out of clues previously laid out by the author (see Question 3)?
  3. Or does the ending come out of the blue, feeling forced or tacked-on?
  4. Perhaps it's too predictable.
  5. Can you envision a different or better ending?

8. Are there certain passages in the book—ideas, descriptions, or dialogue—that you found interesting or revealing...or that somehow struck you? What lines, if any, made you stop and think?

9. Overall, does the book satisfy? Does it live up to the standards of a good crime story or suspense thriller? Why or why not?

(Generic Mystery Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)


(Resources by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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