Need to Know by Karen Cleveland


This novel is firmly placed in the middle of our modern concern of Russian involvement in American lives, but it also works on a deeper level as a novel of marriage and children, work and the hard choices parents have to make in order to do the right things – and how difficult the right thing can be to figure out. Vivian is a career CIA agent working on a program to discover Russian agents in the US. She’s also a married mother of four, who has the more reliable job, the one with the insurance, and she has the terror that comes with an infant born with a heart defect and the day to day issues of daycare pick ups, school drop offs and coordinating daily life with her husband, Matt. One day at the office changes the way she sees everything and gets her into the field on a case that means everything. I could not put this book down – it resonated on so many levels. As a career bureaucrat, I loved how the granular details of Vivian’s office life, such as PIV card, pins, swipes, server rooms and cubicles (down to posted childhood art!) were perfect. The backstory of one couple’s life as they become a family was compelling and real. This novel poses real questions on how far people will go to save their families.

I received this novel from Net Galley with the understanding that I would give it a fair and honest review.

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