Book Review: Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland @karecleve @randomhouse #stephlvsbooks #bookreview #keepyouclose


Book Title and Author: Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland
Publication Date and Publisher: May 28, 2019 by Ballantine Books
Genre: Political Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Pages: 352 pages
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Date Read: April 4, 2019 (publisher copy)

4 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis:

An FBI official’s sense of right and wrong is blurred when her own son is accused of the unimaginable in this heart-pounding thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know.

Stephanie Maddox makes tough decisions every day. She has her hands full heading the FBI’s Internal Investigations division, policing wrongdoers within the Bureau. But, as a single mother, the most important thing in her life is her teenage son Zachary, who’s anxiously awaiting college acceptance letters. So when she discovers a gun concealed in Zach’s room, her world reels. And then an FBI agent on the domestic terrorism squad shows up at her door and utters three devastating words: “It’s about Zachary. . . .”

Has she been wrong about her near-perfect son? Is Zach embroiled in something criminal–something deadly? And, if so, what is her greater duty: To protect him? Or to protect her country?

My Thoughts:

I love a good spy adventure/political thriller and after hearing such fabulous things about Karen Cleveland’s first novel, Need to Know, I knew I had to read Keep You Close. It definitely delivers the high paced action, suspense, and espionage you expect when reading a book about FBI agents, anarchist groups, and Russian spies who are deeply embroiled in the highest levels of the US government!

Agent Stephanie Maddox has always put her career at the FBI first and she’s now head of Internal Affairs in Washington, D.C. Her son Zach is 17, about to graduate high school, and head to college, and their relationships is more that of strangers instead of mother and son. Yet, when Stephanie finds a loaded gun hidden in Zach’s closet, she is positive that it’s not his.

Even when one of her co-workers, an old boyfriend, comes to her house later that night telling her that Zach is involved with a domestic anarchist group and asks to speak to Zach, she not only still believes in her son, but refuses to allow access to her son. Steph’s faith in her son means one thing: she’ll do whatever she can to prove his innocence and find the truth, which leads her to begin investigating the anarchist group and the domestic terrorist threat all on her own. If Zach is innocent, she’ll prove it at all costs but if not, will her allegiance still be to the country she’s dedicated her life to for almost two decades, or will she still protect her son?

The action in Keep You Close is almost non-stop and intense, which makes for a great spy thriller, and Cleveland’s writing excels in these scenes. The Russian spy trope made for a truly believable plot since it’s not only something ripped from newspaper headlines but a classic spy thriller theme. I thought the twisty reveal at the end was totally unexpected and fantastic, and I was left hoping there would be another book—I certainly hope so since I very much enjoyed my first foray into Cleveland’s writing!

Overall, this was a quick, fast-paced, action-packed read that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys books about spies, espionage, conspiracy theories, and political thrillers.

**Thank you so much, Justine Magowan, at Random House – Ballantine Books for gifting me a bound manuscript to read in exchange for a fair and honest review.**

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22 thoughts on “Book Review: Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland @karecleve @randomhouse #stephlvsbooks #bookreview #keepyouclose

    1. I still need to read her 1st one. That’s so odd. Thank you…if it helps at all,reviews for this one have said this is disappointing compared to her 1st book, but I guess since I didn’t read the 1st one I had no expectations.

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    1. I do too, Inge! I bought it this week at my library for $1! I’m really excited to read it since reviews of this one have said Need to Know was much better…I guess it might be a good thing I didn’t read it first, ha! Thank you!

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  1. Great review, Stephaine! I have had Need to KNow on my list for quite some time now. This one sounds really good. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. I like the cover, that’s the sort of thing my eyes would go to straight away. I see ‘FBI’ and already I’m interested.. I’m such an American-crime-thriller-whore! I’m not always as interested in political style stuff, but it sounds like the author has managed to mix in personal elements for the characters, like the agent’s son, to keep things feeling more down to earth and relatable. I take it this is a stand-alone novel by the sound of it, with different characters to her first novel? Will make a note of both for future reading. Fantastic review as always!
    PS. I’ve just started on Little Darlings! 😀

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    1. It’s a great cover. Me too! I used to dream of being a spy when I was little, lol. She has but it’s more action driven than anything. I haven’t read her 1st novel, but it’s a standalone. Although I think there is some mention of characters from the first novel and the first plot in this one just from the way it was written and this one was left on a bit of a cliffhanger or it felt that way to me, at least. I think her next book will be a standalone, but will at least have some elements from this book because the reveal was huge! Thank you, Caz! xoxo Oh, yay!! I hope you’re enjoying it!

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    1. I enjoyed it. If you read her first book, which I didn’t, I’m not sure how much you’ll like this one in comparison. I’ve read reviews stating it wasn’t as good as her 1st, which has me eager to read Need to Know since I enjoyed this one. That would be my only advice. Otherwise, it was really good. I’m very interested to see how it compares though. Thank you,Jonetta. 💜

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