Keep You Close

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

Having adored Karen Cleveland's unique mix of spy and domestic thriller in her gripping debut, Need To Know, I wondered whether her sophomore novel would be able to live up to my expectations. She's done it again — this is a compulsive page-turner with relentless pace and relatable characters. Steph is a single mother to young Zachary but lately, she has been working late and they have grown apart. So when Steph discovers a gun in his bedroom she is startled and immediately jumps to conclusions about where it could've come from. She vows to find out the truth and being a CIA agent her access allows her to view information and get into places she rather wouldn't go. From then on we enter a world of derring-do, corruption, secrets and conspiracies all waiting to be unravelled and exposed. 

The unusual aspect of this thriller is its superior authenticity; Karen Cleveland spent eight years as a CIA analyst, focusing on counterterrorism and working briefly on rotation to the FBI, she understands the ins and outs in writing superb espionage fiction. It's action-packed, twisty and powerful and explores family bonds and the morality of standing by a loved one when everyone else has turned their backs. The beautiful bond between mother and son is there for all to see. This is a quick, easy read and recommended to espionage connoisseurs and even readers of the wider thriller genre. Steph questions her decisions in terms of the moral and ethical implications, but ultimately it is a book that brings a whole new meaning to love conquers all. Many thanks to Bantam Press for an ARC.
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Wow, Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland is a fantastic read. I found you want a fast paced story with plenty of twists then you need to read this book. It has it all.... Russians, hate groups, terrorism, teenage issues... and an ending that you won't see coming . 

Steph Maddox works for the FBI. She loves her job and her son Zach. But hasn't her job taken her attention away from being a good mother? When cleaning her sons room one day she makes a discovery that makes her doubt everything. A gun hidden amongst the dirty clothes. How well does she really know her son? And how far will she go to protect him? The more she looks into this the more danger she is in, and anybody in her life. Will she do what's right for her country or her family?

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Transwold Publishers for my advanced copy of this book to read. All opinions are my own and are in no way biased
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I hadn’t read Karen Cleveland’s previous book so had little idea what to expect. I did expect a family crisis from the synopsis, when a mother had to find out what her son was involved in but I wasn’t prepared for what he was suspected of, or the espionage storyline. 

I did prefer the storyline that focused on Steph and her family. The battle that Steph had to achieve her position in the FBI and how she let it affect her relationship with  her mother and son. She knew she was failing but didn’t seem to be able to improve the situation. There were moments when I wished she would just show them both a little love and consideration.

The other side of the storyline was good, but didn’t captivate me as much until the latter stages of the novel. I was a little shocked by how corruption was rife in the various agencies and had no idea who could be trusted. The ending was a shock and I would love to see if there is a follow up. If there is, great, if there isn’t, it was one of the better final chapters I have read this year.
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Keep You Close is another great read from Karen Cleveland, following on from her breakout novel, Need To Know.  Steph is a FBI Agent whose loyalty to her job is tested when her investigations lead to someone close to her.  But is the person being framed?  I loved reading this story and hope that there will be a third in the series.  It was nice to revisit some of the characters from the previous novel.  Gripping.  4 stars
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Not my usual read at all. But this book had me reading this book until the very end. Racing through the pages. Well written, with a great storyline and characters. This book was very good.
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I didn't gel with this story as well as I did with Karen's first book. I absolutely loved Need to Know - that combination between domestic noir and spy story. but this one was completely different. I feel too distant from the characters to really care as much as I needed to. I didn't get drawn in like I wanted to be. There were still plenty of secrets and lies to be uncovered, but I wasn't as gripped by the storyline. It's probably just a question of personal preference.
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Keep You Close is the first book by Karen Cleveland that I have read and whilst it is a good story that keeps you turning or clicking the pages I found the style of narration slightly off putting and didn't really engage with the main character.

Saying all that the stray does move along at a pace and has a number of twists and turns that will keep you entertained 

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Stephanie Maddox exposes corruption within the FBI having worked for many years to get to her current position. Stephanie is a single parent with a 17 year old son Zachary. Stephanie has been neglectful as a parent to advance her professional career. Then Stephanie discovers a gun hidden in Zachary’s room and she wonders what he is up to. 
I loved book one by this author so was keen to pick this one up. There are quite a few twists and turns to this tale with Zachary suspected of being linked to a terrorist group. Stephanie starts investigating while Zachary denies any knowledge of the gun or the group. The following chapters lead to Stephanie seeing who can and who cannot be trusted. Zachary helps with some computer hacking to get more information for Stephanie.
I loved the use of the game of Chess to explain the story and the term  ‘Protect the King’ is used several times.  This kept me reading long into the night. Recommended.
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Maddox thought she knew her son but soon found out to her own cost that she didn't. As an FBI agent she lived and breathed her job and family came last. When she finds something in her sons room she is troubled and has reason to be. Someone is trying to frame her son for something and she needs to find out who before it's too late.
Whilst I enjoyed this book I was  confused as to what happened with Maddox at the end so was a bit disappointed.
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This was a fast-paced spy thriller with plenty of twists and turns.
It was an enjoyable read that kept me wanting to read with only minor niggles at a bit of a repetitive thread running through it and some parts being a bit unbelievable.
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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? 

The plot itself is pretty convoluted. There are twists. The Russians are somehow involved, lending a topical element. 

I was initially intrigued by the idea of a mother questioning if she really knows her son and being put into a difficult position of wondering what he might be capable of, Steph's character arc ultimately puts her in the same position of weakness that she worked so hard to overcome.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an advance copy in return for a fair and honest review.
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‘What if he’s not who she thinks he is?  How well does she really know him?

Stephanie Maddox is the head of the FBI’s Internal Investigations Division in the Washington, D.C. office.  It’s a busy and demanding position, and Stephanie works long hours.  She’s also the single mother of seventeen-year-old Zachary who has become distant and uncommunicative.  Stephanie thinks this is a consequence of his age and her long hours and resolves to do something about it. Imagine how Stephanie feels when she discovers a gun hidden in Zachary’s room.  Her Zachary, a good student, who is awaiting college acceptance letters?  And then, an FBI agent from the domestic terrorism squad shows up: ‘It’s about Zachary …’.  Stephanie learns that apparently Zachary has been emailing a domestic terrorist group.

Stephanie is conflicted.  Can she protect Zachary?  Surely, he is not involved in terrorism?
I read this book in a day, wanting to know how it would end and what choices Stephanie would make.  Stephanie is convinced that someone from her past (could it be Zachary’s father (an influential Senator), or a disgruntled FBI agent who lost his job because of her, or a mob boss) trying to get at Stephanie through Zachary?

The more Stephanie investigates, the less she seems able to distinguish between right and wrong.  While I appreciate the dilemma Stephanie finds herself in, some of the choices she makes left me gobsmacked. A couple of aspects of the story (although I can’t tell you what they are without spoilers) didn’t work for me.

My conclusion?  This is a fast-moving story which, while it mostly held my attention, had me questioning its believability. Surely a good FBI agent would have paid more attention to detail than Stephanie did?

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Bantam Press for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this book

what wouldnt a mother do to keep her child safe...

as more and more evidence appears that the terrorist group do exist and that the threat is credible, what can steph do in her role in fbi and keep her family safe...after finding that gun and evidence that her son could be in contact with this group....

but could someone else higher up than her be a double agent working for the russian...but who will believe her?

as steph fights to clear her sons name and find out who is threatening her family,will she be able to figure it out before her son is arrested...

a tense thriller that will keep you on your toes...
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FBI agent Steph Maddox works hard, has little time for her teenage son who with or without her guidance has become an exceptional student on the brink of being accepted into one of the best colleges in the US. A brief visit into domesticity finds Steph tidying his messy bedroom and to her absolute horror she discovers a gun hidden in his closet. Accusations, denials and a strained relationship tear her apart. As a Mum she wants to believe and protect, as an FBI agent she knows she should report him. As her life, both professional and personal become entwined and increasingly desperate she struggles to know who to trust in her bid to find a way out of this complex problem. Fast paced, with heart thumping terror this book questions just how far someone will go to protect those closest to them or indeed to protect themselves.
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Another great thriller from Karen Cleveland. Her debut blew me away, and so I was excited for this one. While it didn't pack the same punch (in my opinion) this is still a clever, tense thriller full of twists and turns. 
I loved the dynamic of the relationships, especially between Steph and her son Zachary. And the ending, I didn't predict.
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I'm a little saddened by my reaction to this book- Need To Know was one of my top thrillers last year - but Keep You Close didn't really hit the mark for me at all.

The premise is intriguing. It has a domestic noir hint - how well do you know your children- with a spy thriller twist- main protagonist is not your usual parent...

However my honest reaction was one of ennui. The characterful observations of Need to Know are lacking here, giving it a flat feel and it feels a lot more like a paint by numbers thriller. Which isn't a bad thing necessarily, other readers looking for a fast paced fairly light read will be well rewarded- but I guess I wanted more. 

The twists are ok but not unexpectedly delightful as in the previous book and all in all it felt like an attempt to do the same thing again in a different domestic situation. I read it happily enough, even enjoyed a fair bit of it in a popcorn way and it's not bad by any means - I just didn't feel it this time. I'll look forward to book 3. My gut feeling is Keep You Close is simply another case of difficult second book syndrome and Karen Cleveland clearly is a talented writer so that'll pass.
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Another fast-paced espionage thriller full of twists and turns from Kate Cleveland. 
Steph is a single mum who has provided a secure home for her son Zachary by concentrating on her career as a CIA agent. But long hours at work have pushed them apart and when Steph finds a suspicious object hidden in Zachary’s room, she is convinced that he has been set up, but has no idea why or by whom.
Without pausing to take a breath, we hurtle into a world of secrets and double-crossing to discover the truth.
I certainly enjoyed the book as a quick action-packed story. Personally I would have welcomed an occasional change of pace and a little less repeated revisiting of the theme of regret. But overall the twists and unexpected reveals kept me hooked and turning the pages until the truth was revealed.
Many thanks to the publisher and netgalley for an ARC in return for an honest review.
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I am aware that the author has written other books but this is first one that I have read. This book certainly draws upon the ethical dilemmas when your job and what you believe is right conflicts with your family and those you love. I enjoyed the elements of the past interspersed throughout the book, although despite this I don't think i ever really connected with Stephanie as a main character. The book was really fast paced but perhaps too much in that it was hard to keep up with at times.  Overall, I would say it was good but not great!
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Wow this book left me with lots of moral questions. What would any mother do in this situation? Well written and hard hitting, I really enjoyed this.
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I'm not a mother but I did find the uneasiness under my skin while reading this book.  I don' know what I'd do if I were to be in that situation.  This one goes out for parents or anyone who's interested in the synopsis, what would you do?
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