Bantam Press | 2018 (25 January) | 304p | Review copy | Buy the book
Vivian Miller is a CIA analyst working in Washington DC who is on the brink of a making a breakthrough that will secure the future for herself, her husband Matt and their four young children, including their little twin boys. Vivian has developed a programme that will allow her to infiltrate and control the computers of suspected Russian leading agents. This will potentially enable the CIA to identify sleeper agents who are deeply hidden within American society. At last, Vivian has control over the computer of one such handler. But when she opens up the folder ‘Friends’ and five photographs are revealed, Vivian has the shock of her life.
And that is about all I want to say about the plot of Need to Know because from that minute on Karen’s whole life is swept from under her feet and we are carried with her. How will she deal with what she learns? Will she confront it? Will she collude with it? But as the minutes go by, the danger sharply increases and nobody knows better than Vivian what could lie ahead, not just for herself but for her whole family. Who can she trust? The answer is starkly obvious – nobody.
I read most of Need to Know in one sitting and all of it in one day. It’s that kind of book. There were little bits of it that I felt were veering towards the expected but I wasn’t allowed to feel too safe for too long. The tension soon took us off in another direction. And the fact that all of it is rooted in ‘normality’, in ordinary lives (despite the CIA connection), makes it all the more shocking and thrilling.
Vivian is a great character. I really enjoyed learning about her as she recalls her past life and the years that have led up to this moment. Hindsight is such a marvellous thing, as Vivian truly learns. The spying element is also thoroughly entertaining, with just the right about of espionage nitty gritty and background to make it seem believable and to make you want to look over your shoulder.
This is one of those novels that was surrounded by a lot of excitement very early on but it is fully deserved. I sat on the edge of my seat for Need to Know. When you read it, I suspect you will want to know every bit as much as I did.