Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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Part of the job of CIA analyst Jill Bailey, the narrator of this tense spy novel from Thriller Award finalist Cleveland (Need to Know), consists of vetting potential double agents. One morning at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., she receives a call telling her that her infant son, Owen, is being held hostage. In exchange for his return, she must green light the agency’s documentation on a potential Syrian double agent code-named Falcon. With the pressure mounting, Jill does as she is told. Once Owen is safely in her arms, she realizes she’s been compromised forever. Impulsively, she resigns her job and persuades her husband to move to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where she settles into a reassuring humdrum existence. Four years later, her new life rapidly unravels when she’s approached by a journalist who wants “to talk about Falcon.” Jill is soon putting her safety on the line to protect her family as Cleveland plunges the reader into a terrifying world of shifting alliances, action, and intrigue. Fans of strong, decisive female characters will find much to like. Agent: David Gernert, Gernert Company. (Aug.)


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

When a CIA analyst caves in to blackmail, she sets in motion a series of events that may lead to war. At exactly 10:59 one morning, CIA desk officer Jill receives a request to vet a new Syrian source, code-named Falcon, a "defense official attached to a covert biowarfare program, working deep in one of our darkest of black holes." There would have been a time when she would have “live[d] for” this opportunity, but now she has new priorities; namely, getting to her car at 11:00 to watch her infant son on the day care cam. As she settles in, she receives a call from an unknown caller: “We have your son.” They promise to release him only if Jill approves Falcon, immediately. In a daze of fear, Jill does as they ask, and Owen is returned, but she knows she’ll never feel safe. She quits her job and convinces her husband to move; four years later, they have built a good life away from the CIA and even expanded their family. Then one day, she catches a woman watching her. It turns out she's Alex Charles, a journalist whose anonymous source has recently disclosed that “ninety percent of…intelligence on Syria’s biological weapons program comes from a single...source.” This in turn has led Alex to Falcon, and to Jill, and she wants some answers—and, preferably, a Pulitzer. Jill knows getting involved might put her family at risk again, but as she and Alex investigate, they realize that Falcon is a creation of someone within their own government—someone willing to kill to start a war. The novel lacks the deeper technical language and action of Tom Clancy or the literary bleakness of John le Carré, but there’s enough espionage to satisfy the casual reader of spy fiction, even down to some unexpected twists in the ending. Two strong, resilient women working together to save the world? Yes, please. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal
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Three bold women star in the third suspense novel by former CIA analyst Cleveland (Keep You Close; Need To Know). Natasha Ivanovna is a Russian agent who aims to steal powerful new technology from the CIA by planting tips on the dark side of the internet. American CIA analyst Jill Bailey upends her life when her infant son Owen is kidnapped. She complies with the kidnapper's demands: to approve a cable and never tell anyone of the incident; Owen is then returned safely. Four years later, the Pulitzer-hungry journalist Alex Charles dives into fresh clandestine tips. Her resulting exposé about faked intel at the CIA (as revealed by Natasha) puts Jill and her family in mortal danger. Convincingly, Cleveland puts Natasha, Jill, and Alex through a showdown. VERDICT Cleveland weaves technology, motherhood, and spydom's skullduggery into a taut, alluring web. Acclaimed for fiendishly clever plotting, she whips up the story to a breakneck pace, then rewards readers with a knockout ending. Fans of Stella Rimington's series about MI5 agent Liz Carlyle will thrill to the steely grit and brave hearts of Jill and Alex.—Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA

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