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The New Neighbor - a CIA thriller full of twists

The New Neighbor by Karen Cleveland

Genre: Thriller / Mystery

Publish Date: July 26, 2022, 320 pages

Thanks for #NetGalley and #RandomHouseBallantine for this free copy of a new release book; the opinion expressed are entirely my own.


Beth is a CIA agent in counter intelligence and has been working for years to catch a foreign infiltrator who is trying to gain access to the CIA and FBI networks. She takes a week off to help her last child settle in at college and when she returns, she finds that she's been taken off the case and demoted to a teaching position. WHAT????

She goes home with her head spinning to find that her husband is leaving her. So here she is, the house she loves and raised her kids in is sold, her husband is leaving, her kids are all grown and gone, AND she's lost the job she loves. What's a woman to do?

Well Beth decides the only thing she CAN do is find "the neighbor" (the name the CIA has given the spy). The rest of the book is about her trying to accomplish just that. One of the main clues to the spy is that a 'cul-de-sac' is involved - and she lived on a cul-de-sac with neighbors who also worked for various departments in the CIA. And she ends up suspecting just about everyone until it really does feel like she's spinning out of control.

There's lots of action as she bounces from suspect to suspect, dangerous situation to more dangerous situation. The pages fly by.


I guess I can understand not wanting to give up on a project you've spent 10 years working on. And I can appreciate a thriller with twists and turns. However, almost every page felt like a new twist. Being inside Beth's brain was exhausting! As we follow her reasoning from suspect to suspect, each time she's certain she's right as she bends the facts to fit her new suspect, it becomes a bit monotonous and the twists become less effective.

I found myself thinking she was a very unreliable narrator and I began to wonder if the final twist was going to be that it was all a dream, or she was looney tunes. But no, she eventually figures it out. Or does she?

The writing was fine, the characters generally superficial with minor back stories, but there's plenty of action to keep the pages turning. It could be an enjoyable weekend thriller if you're looking for something super twisty that might put your brain in knots.

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