Hailed by thriller heavyweights John Grisham and Lee Child, Need To Know is a debut novel from former CIA analyst Karen Cleveland (if that’s even her real name).
There’s already a fair amount of buzz about the book and a film starring Charlize Theron is in the works.
The plot focuses on CIA analyst Vivian, a mother of four who struggles with the guilt involved in leaving her children behind every day to hunt down Russian sleeper cells in the US.
At least she can always depend on loving husband and wonderful father Matt – or can she?
The story has a lot in common with TV series Homeland, where high-stakes international intrigue and domestic drama collide.
The problem is, until things hot up towards the end, it’s not especially exciting. The narrator’s anxious monologue grates at times (“Deep breaths. Deep breaths, Viv”) and, for a hotshot CIA analyst, Vivian seems to make some strange decisions, not all of which can be excused by her willingness to protect her family.
The twists are a touch predictable, and the insight provided by a real-life former CIA employee isn’t very illuminating, though who knows how much had to be redacted…
Fans of thrillers will quickly devour this in a day or two, but it just might be one of the rare occasions where the film ends up being better than the book.