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Need to Know

A Novel
Written by: Karen Cleveland
Narrated by: Mia Barron
Length: 9 hrs and 39 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 32.93
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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

What the critics say

"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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    1 out of 5 stars

Trying way too hard to be a Shakespeare!

The story feels overly dramatic. It portrays the Russians as an all knowing government and Americans as a cow that doesn't know a thing about spying. That veers off the reliability of the fiction so much, it annoys. And the main character, the agent is shown to be such a crybaby. Oh my god. You are a CIA agent, act like one. She is made so cringey, like a 16 year old spoon fed baby! So much drama, such overbearing feelings, crying, life's unfair with me blah blah blah!

Then she goes ahead and pumps out so many babies! The couple are shown to be struggling after the first, but then they go ahead for so many!? That baffled me.

The author's attempt at visualisation, in one word- it sucks. She tries to paint a picture with so many useless details its astounding. If you removed all of them, I bet the books' thickness can be cut in half.

And the narrator, her attempt at mimicking a strong male character was comical.

Like come on, you can't physically do it with your voice, then stop overdoing it! Just narrate it normally in your own voice, the listener isn't stupid that they won't understand who's saying what.

So many times, I stopped listening, but I continued because my work is THAT boring and I don't have unlimited data.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-02-19

Great Read!!

Karen Cleveland has written a mystery novel that keeps you guessing through out the book.
I hope she follows up this book with a next one.
Her readers will want to know more about her main character, Vivian Miller. Plus, we would love to see what happens to Omar.
Congratulations on her choice of narrator, Mia Barron. Perfect voice for this novel!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lisa M. Daniel
  • Bethesda, MD USA
  • 2018-04-08

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Nerakay
  • Near St. Louis MO
  • 2018-04-08

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Mel
  • 2018-02-03

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.


20 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • ilene
  • 2018-01-26

Boring

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

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Diane G.
  • 2018-03-03

Not super intelligent CIA intelligence operatives, in my humble opinion.

I found Need to Know an unputdownable listen in spite of that. I found myself answering Vivian back most of the way through the book. What I mean is that she constantly questions herself, her decisions, can she believe her husband or trust what he tells her. Without spoiling the book its hard to review it, but I found myself voicing my dislike of her naivite constantly, to the point that I was yelling and thinking how is she believing this stuff at all? I have to admit to the fact that the situation she found herself in, a totally life-changing, nerve-wracking one would seem impossible to anyone. What I did not understand about it was how she didn't just immediately assume that any or all of the people on her team, who had access and security clearance like hers, would find the damning information just as she had. But her greatest fear, at first, was that someone would see what she was up to by sneaking up on her while she worked at her desk, and bam! that would be it. However I may be being too hard on Vivian, because I really liked her character, being a CIA analyst, Russian division, the most serious, and at the same time, with the help of her husband Matt (who is a piece of work and the reason for her dilemma) raising 4 young children. Both of them, you will see as the story progresses are truly loving and devoted to their kids. Two of them a boy, just starting Kintergarden,and a girl still a toddler and the other two are twin boys, only about a little over a year. Both Viv and her husband work, but work very well in tandem every morning; getting them all up, dressed, and fed, as well as themselves. Then three Viv drops at daycare, and Matt drops Luke, the oldest, at the school bus. At night they have dinner together, then Matt and Viv work together to get the kids bathed, in PJs, stories read, and tucked in bed. I loved hearing Viv describing her children, its not work to her, she loves every minute with them and also with Matt, her husband.
The book for me was a fast listen, because it was not overly wordy, the author keeps the story pretty much straightforward, and does not go very deep into the espionage stuff. Only as much as is necessary to tell the story and the story is about a family, a happy family, firm in their belief that all is fine with the world, until suddenly it isn't.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Noelle
  • DORCHESTER , MA, United States
  • 2018-02-10

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.

17 of 22 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephanie Zaza
  • 2018-01-31

Not a spy novel

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Women who are struggling trying to have it all. This book is a long rumination on the conflict that many women face between having a career and being a mother. The espionage part of the story is preposterous and frankly just background - it could have been anything that caused the conflict.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Going back to Greg Hurwitz since his next installment in the Orphan X series just came out.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

It wasn't the narrator's fault. She was very good and I liked when the sound of the Midwest came out in her voice. But she is taking the fall for me hating the main character - because she embodied it really well!

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

Every time the main character whines about being confused about what is happening and what she should do. Nothing confusing about this. Your husband is a Russian spy, you are a CIA agent. Duh. Plus there are about 5 endings. Pick one.

Any additional comments?

If our CIA analysts are really this naïve we are in seriously big trouble.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Delyn Volmer
  • California
  • 2018-11-16

If this were a handheld book it would be a page turner!

Great tale! Plenty of suspense & mental conflict. Fun to listen to! Surprise it’s a O’Henry ending.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Marley
  • 2018-04-25

Sooooo gooood!!

Definitely draws you in and keeps you there. Such a good story. Need more from Karen Cleveland ASAP!! A sequel would be on my wish list!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful