Idyllic neighborhood, perfect family, meaningful career. CIA analyst Beth Bradford has it all—
Until she doesn’t.
Now, facing an empty nest and a broken marriage, Beth is moving from the cul-de-sac she’s long called home, and the CIA is removing her from the case that’s long been hers: tracking an elusive Iranian intelligence agent known as The Neighbor.
Madeline Sterling moves into Beth’s old house. She has what Beth once had: an adoring husband, three beautiful young children, and the close-knit group of neighbors on the block. Now she has it all. And Beth—who can’t stop watching the woman stepping in to her old life—thinks the new neighbor has something else too: ties to Iranian intelligence.
Is Beth just jealous? Paranoid? Or is something more at play?
After all, most of the families on the cul-de-sac have some tie to the CIA. They’re all keeping secrets. And they all know more about their neighbors than they should. It would be the perfect place to insert a spy—unless one was there all along.
I love me a good thriller, although not usually of the espionage variety. Still, I was caught by the blurb, the recent release already in my well-stocked library which is no stranger to the author.
I’m not sure what to think of a CIA agent on the hunt for seventeen years of an Iranian intelligence agent who is now coded as “The New Neighbor.” Beth Bradford is married with children, the last of three now about to leave the nest of a lovely home in a neighborhood they’ve lived in almost the entirety of the children’s lives. They know and love their neighbors but as their circumstances are changing, think it’s time they scaled down.
That is, right up until the time Beth’s husband allows as to how they’ve both been hanging on until the kids leave. He wants to leave too, but into his own quarters with a new squeeze. They sold their home to Madeline and somehow Beth immediately suspects Madeline isn’t who she says she is.
Madeline is making friends in the hood (her friends) and keeps an odd schedule. Beth raises the question to her boss who immediately shuts her down and cautions that perhaps she’s experiencing overload with losing her kids, her husband, her home, and now after seventeen years taken off the hunt for The New Neighbor as well. The proximity to their headquarters is too coincidental, along with other points she can tick off. Can you spell neurotic? J-e-a-l-o-u-s?
Must she lose everything? NO! She will not lose that too and determined to ferret out The New Neighbor finds ways to short cut her new assignment in order to watch Madeline.
Okay, seventeen years is a long time to work on one assignment, especially if it lacks success, why wasn’t she reassigned years ago? Has the woman just gone off the deep end? Is this all really too much for her?
The character definitely can be annoying, ramping into paranoia quickly. She’s jumping all over the place with theories forcing the reader to consider another possible neighbor when really suspicion rose early as to who it might have been and was borne out in conclusion.
Having to concede it was an entertaining narrative, well-plotted if not redundant, it did pose several thought-provoking questions. I didn’t care for her character nor most of those in her neighborhood—her best friend also failing support for her as well.
Engaging, bordering on annoying. I read Need to Know back in 2018 and enjoyed it, noting a continuation between the family life and this one—that conflicted tension with family and her CIA position in counterintelligence searching for Russian sleeper cells in the US that she is (or was) apparently still working.
I received a copy of this audiobook from my locally well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.
Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Espionage Thrillers
Publisher: Random House Audio
Listening Length: 8 hrs 10 mins
Narrator: Lisa Flanagan
Publication Date: July 26, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: [Amazon]
Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five Stars
The Author: Karen Cleveland is a former CIA counterterrorism analyst and the New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know and Keep You Close. She has master’s degrees from Trinity College Dublin and Harvard University. Cleveland lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children.
©2022 V Williams