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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The New Neighbor

ISBN: 978-0593358023

Publisher: Ballantine

Publication Date: 07/26/2022

Format: Other

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

Secrets, jealousy, and paranoia collide when a seemingly perfect new family moves into a neighborhood with ties to the CIA in this gripping thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know.

“Karen Cleveland ingeniously melds domestic intrigue with the lightning pace of a spy thriller, showing us the devastating personal costs of intelligence work.”

—Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of Listen to Me

Idyllic neighborhood, perfect family, meaningful career. CIA analyst Beth Bradford has it all—

Until she doesn’t.

Now, facing an empty nest and a broken marriage, Beth is moving from the cul-de-sac she’s long called home, and the CIA is removing her from the case that’s long been hers: tracking an elusive Iranian intelligence agent known as The Neighbor.

Madeline Sterling moves into Beth’s old house. She has what Beth once had: an adoring husband, three beautiful young children, and the close-knit group of neighbors on the block. Now she has it all. And Beth—who can’t stop watching the woman stepping into her old life—thinks the new neighbor has something else too: ties to Iranian intelligence.

Is Beth just jealous? Paranoid? Or is something more at play?

After all, most of the families on the cul-de-sac have some tie to the CIA. They’re all keeping secrets. And they all know more about their neighbors than they should. It would be the perfect place to insert a spy—unless one was there all along.


“Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to be a spy? In The New Neighbor, former CIA analyst Karen Cleveland shows you how to find the security threat in lurking in your own backyard. Filled with CIA insights that only an insider would know and every trick in the analyst’s toolbox . . . a cunningly constructed puzzle box of a thriller.”

—Alma Katsu, author of Red Widow

“Clever . . . The strong plot takes several convincing twists. . . . Cleveland consistently entertains.” —Publishers Weekly

“Satisfying twists . . . It’s clear that we never really know our neighbors”

—Kirkus Reviews

My Review

In Karen Cleveland's latest domestic suspense thriller, set a suburban neighborhood in the DC area in McLean, VA—THE NEW NEIGHBOR is a cyberwar spy mystery to discover— Who is "The Neighbor?"


At the novel's opening, CIA counterintelligence analyst Beth Bradford is dropping her youngest child off at college, one married and one out of the country. An empty nester, she is sad because she is moving and her life is changing. Her house is up for sale. She must say goodbye to the home and neighborhood where she raised her children after her husband announces he is leaving her.

On top of this, another stab in the back. She is being demoted to a mere training role instead of continuing her 15-year pursuit of a U.S.-based covert Iranian operative known as "The Neighbor."

She is not ready to let go of the case. She knows more than anyone about the subject and is convinced the new resident is THE NEIGHBOR. The new neighbors who purchased her old house are Madeline and Josh Sterling. She is sure Madeline is THE NEIGHBOR, and she sets up surveillance of a cul-de-sac in her old neighborhood and appears increasingly unhinged to her friends and former neighbors.

Madeline has what Beth once had: an adoring husband, three beautiful young children, and the close-knit group of neighbors on the block. Now she has it all. And Beth—who can't stop watching the woman stepping into her old life—thinks the new Neighbor has something else too: ties to Iranian intelligence.

The Neighbor is an access agent —and by extension, a notoriously tricky target. Put simply, access agents are recruits who take over the recruiting role. Individuals who agree to work for a foreign intelligence service sell out their own country —by recruiting more traitors. And they are nearly impossible to find because they blend in. They do not know who The Neighbor is nor who they have recruited. Employees with security clearances feed sensitive information to our adversary and have been for years. The FBI's focused on finding The Neighbor's recruits, learning what secrets they've exposed. Putting an end to all of it before it is too late.

Beth then thinks there may be a silver lining to the empty nest since she can focus entirely on THE NEIGHBOR and will keep her busy. However, Beth becomes obsessed and unhinged. Will she determine that the new Neighbor is the exclusive secret agent?

She makes all kinds of mistakes and jumps from one suspect to another. Everyone thinks she is mad, paranoid, or crazy. From secrets, jealousy, and scandal, THE NEW NEIGHBOR makes for an intriguing slow-burn thriller as you are racing to the unveiling of THE NEIGHBOR (which will be at the end).

It is not what you expect and reaches a satisfying conclusion. This complex, multi-layered tale will keep you guessing. Even though Beth was not a strong female character lead (nor did she behave like someone in her position with all kinds of mistakes), you are not fully invested in her nor know if she is a reliable narrator. It gets to the point it is almost crazy and comical.

Overall, a cross between DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, the movie THEM and THE AMERICANS. You envision the lawn chairs lined up in this neighborhood, watching in the seemingly perfect neighborhood with families; however, darkness and secrets beneath this facade.

"Every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies." — Jane Austen

Mostly entertaining and not a lot of suspense and thrills. Of course, Cleveland knows her spy stuff and is a brilliant writer. However, Beth was not my favorite character.

I look forward to Cleveland's next book, which hopefully will feature a more robust and competent female lead.

Thank you to #Ballantine #RandomHouse and #Netgalley for an ARC to read, review, and enjoy in exchange for an honest review.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

About the Author

Karen Cleveland is a former CIA counterterrorism analyst and the New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know, Keep You Close, and You Can Run. She has master's degrees from Trinity College Dublin and Harvard University. Cleveland lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children. WEBSITE



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