In the latest from the bestselling author of Need to Know, FBI agent Stephanie Maddox learns that her 17-year-old son is being investigated for ties to domestic terrorism. After two decades of grueling work to earn her position in the Bureau, Maddox is unsure of where to place her loyalty: With her son? Or the FBI?
I found Cleveland’s sophomore effort to be another solid offering full of twists, well-timed action sequences, and a strong hook that’ll suck the bulk of her readers in right away. The story reads quickly, though there is an over usage of flashback that makes the timeline a bit confusing, and Cleveland certainly knows how to pull readers along, segueing nicely between chapters ... Cleveland’s latest doesn’t have the same urgency that made her first book so nerve-wracking and unputdownable. What it does have is a more emotionally-driven protagonist, who sometimes lets her feelings dictate her responses and actions, which comes off as genuine and relatable for the most part. On the other hand, it makes her look undisciplined and not very smart, which doesn’t fit her background as an FBI official. Still, Cleveland excels at stripping down characters in high-stakes government careers and putting their backs against the wall while their worlds come crashing down around them, which is certainly the case here. And just when you think you know where the story’s going, she pivots hard, zipping readers in a different direction fueled by conspiracies and secrets, leading to an explosive final act ... Karen Cleveland proves she’s more than a one-hit wonder with Keep You Close, another fast-paced thriller that twists and turns its way to an exciting conclusion.
Cleveland excels at twisting her plots so tightly that the 'big reveal' in the end truly is a surprise. The writing, sadly, isn’t as sharply honed as the action, but in a novel like this, few fans will complain as they’re swept along by the multilayered plot. While at times it feels overdramatic, Cleveland's...second political thriller rings plausible enough to keep the most faithful—or eager—conspiracy theorists reading along.