This is Cleveland’s second published book and it follows on the heels of “Need to Know,” which was a mesmerizing novel dealing with a woman working as an analyst for the CIA. In her second book, the protagonist is a woman working for the FBI and the reader is again drawn into the story and kept there until the novel is finished.
Stephanie Maddox is in charge of an FBI unit dealing with internal affairs. She was promoted to the position at an age younger than her peer group and intends to earn the position as well as more by her hard work and dedication. She is the single mother of a teen age boy about to graduate from high school and awaiting acceptance to college. Stephanie is totally dedicated to Zachary, her son, and only wants what is best for him.
The unthinkable does happen suddenly when she finds a gun hidden in Zach’s effects; fully loaded with extra bullets in the same spot. At the same time, she is visited by a friend of hers that works with the FBI’s domestic terrorism squad. His visit is not social and his explanation is: “It’s about Zachary”.
Stephanie refuses to accept any supposition that her son is guilty of wrong doing and begins her own unofficial investigation into the matter. The book details what she finds and the reader will not be surprised that it involves people in very high places. These include the Russian Mafia and a U.S. senator that Stephanie has worked for in the past as well as an ex-boyfriend of hers.
Tightly woven, the author leads us on to an ending that is a bit tricky to accept but is a fitting one for the story. Another excellent read by Cleveland and definitely making sure that her future books will be high up on her readers’ acquisitions list.
5/19 Paul Lane
KEEP YOU CLOSE by Karen Cleveland. Ballantine Books (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-1524797058. 352p.