My #Review of, Need To Know by @karecleve Karen Cleveland 4* @TransworldBooks #NewRelease #CIA #SpyFiction by @annebonnybook

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*

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Need To Know by Karen Cleveland
Synopsis:
Vivian Miller is a CIA analyst assigned to uncover Russian sleeper cells in the USA. After accessing the computer of a potential Russian spy, she stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents living in her own country.

Five photos of seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

She’s about to make the breakthrough of her career until she opens the third photograph and sees a face staring back at her that she never expected to see . . .

In an instant, everything that matters to Vivian is threatened – her job, her husband, even her four children.

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?

My review:

I love a good spy novel! Especially one that involves mystery, intrigue and suspense.
This novel has it ALL!
There is a brief synopsis, on the proof edition and for this I am glad. I wanted to go in with little knowledge and explore the various characters as individuals.
So, from the synopsis, we are aware that Vivian Miller is a CIA counter intelligence analyst. Her role involves uncovering Russian sleeper cells on American soil. She finally gains access to an encrypted dossier of deep undercover agents. Only to be met with the face of her husband!!!!
Viv has been married to her husband for 10 years and they have four young children together.
Is her entire life, a lie?

*A synopsis like that, has a reader DYING to jump inside! I for one, was desperate to uncover the truth.

The novel opens with a stand-off between Viv and her husband Matthew. She has her hands on a flash drive and utters the words “You know I don’t have a choice”.

Two days earlier:
The novel details the family life of the Miller’s. Their four children Ella, Luke, Caleb and Chase.
Viv is at a peak moment of her career, two years of hard work, is about to come to fruition. Viv is about to uncover the secrets of the Russian sleeper cells. Her work colleague Omar, chases intelligence on the individual sleeps and it is Viv’s job to follow the links from sleepers, to handlers, to ring leader and finally to Moscow Russian intelligence.

A previous objective was trialled where sleepers were offered the chance to ‘come in from the cold’. They were offered amnesty by the US government in exchange for information they held. This objective brought them Dmitri (known as Dmitri the dangle), until his mysterious disappearance.
The objective failed, and this gave way, for Viv’s task of uncovering the files of Yury Yakov. The only Russian spy named by Dmitri the dangle.
The CIA team consists of Peter, senior analyst and Viv’s mentor for eight years. Also, Marta, Trey, Helen, Rafael and Bert. The Russians have targeted individual members of the team previously.
But nothing quite as deep layered and suspenseful as the plot of this novel…….

When Viv uncovers her own husbands photo on the flash drive. It leaves her with two options, turn him in or cover up his involvement.
But how do you turn in the man you love? The father of your children? Alternatively, how do you betray your own country?
Going against everything you have ever believed in?
Are there only two options open to Viv?
Can she strategize a way to get her family out of this?
And most importantly, is Matt a Russian spy? Is she really sleeping with the enemy?

This novel is packed with suspense. From the couple’s relationship to the greater implications of Russian interference with the American government intelligence gathering.
I was absolutely hooked!
I found Viv, to be very believable in her role as a hard-working mother, not afraid of the sacrifices necessary, to be at the top of her game in the CIA. I also loved the themes of secrecy and betrayal.

I noticed how much it had an impact on my internal thoughts. When I found myself glancing over the top of the proof, at my husband. Questioning myself, could I turn him in? what if he was a security risk to my country?
I have been with my husband 17 years and we have three children together. I have no idea, what I would do/think, if one day I learned our entire life was a lie!!

But I was eager to read Vivian’s story, without missing a single word on the page! I read this novel straight through, in one sitting.
The plot grips you and doesn’t let go! 4*

KC
Karen Cleveland
Authors Links:
Website
Twitter

#Review #TheGoodAssassin by @paulvidich @noexitpress

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The Good Assassin by Paul Vidich
Synopsis:

Paul Vidich follows up his acclaimed debut spy thriller with a suspenseful tale of Cold War espionage set in 1950s Cuba, as foreign powers compete to influence the outcome of a revolution.

The CIA director persuades retired agent George Mueller to go to Cuba during the perilous last throes of the Batista regime to investigate Toby Graham, a CIA operative suspected of assisting Fidel Castro’s rebel fighters with diverted CIA weaponry. Posing as a magazine travel writer, Mueller reconnects with Jack and Liz Malone, old friends who have relocated to Cuba and are unable to see the coming upheaval in their lives, both political and personal. Toby’s betrayals aren’t limited to his mission, and Mueller must make a choice between justice and duty, between loyalty to his profession and to his friends.

My review:

I picked this novel due to two primary reasons. The era, 1950’s and the location of Cuba and I was not disappointed at all. The novel is spy based as described in the synopsis. Retired CIA agent George Mueller is called back into the fold, to assess and report back on fellow CIA agent Toby Graham.

With rumours that Toby is involved in assisting the Fidel Castro rebel fighters, there is cold war politics galore in this novel. The whole element of loyalty vs honour or friendships vs secrets is fully put to the test. From early on, in the novel I questioned everyone’s motives. But this is essentially an era where agents lived dangerously, not only within their job roles but within their personal lives also. There was a specific quote about Havana which I loved
“Havana saloons where the food is cheap and the drinks generous”
Time Machine anyone?

Aside from the glitz and the glamour there is political unrest and none of the central characters fully know what is in store for them. Cuba can no longer afford to continue to sell itself to the USA vis it’s trade in sugar, rum, beaches and women. Without expecting the USA to try and insert some political control. There are two sides to Cuba, the casinos and dance halls and the other more historic side where the quiet Spanish colonial still holds much influence. One thing, is for certain Cuba, is changing!
Will George Muller survive the change and find some distinction between assassin and friend?

This has to be the perfect historical location, Cuba seeps from every page and I felt I walked amongst the characters and their different struggles. 4*

PV
Paul Vidich
Authors Links:
web: http://paulvidich.com/
Twitter: @paulvidich