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Book Talk: Cleveland, ‘The New Neighbor’

Karen Cleveland’s latest book, The New Neighbor (2022, 289 pages), is a disappointment. It’s kind of like a sleek sportscar with four-on-the-floor manual transmission. Let me explain.

If you’ve read Cleveland’s three previous books, Need to Know (2018), Keep You Close (2019), and You Can Run (2021), all of which I reviewed on Sept. 22, 2021, you look at her new book and think, “Wow, this is going to be one of those zero-to-60-mph-in-3.5-seconds rides.” But when you begin reading, it seems that the transmission is in neutral. For the first 70 pages, the author tells us about Beth Bradford, a CIA analyst on the Iran desk. In turn, Beth tells us about her husband, Mike, and her grown children, a daughter in London, a married daughter, and a son who she and her husband Mike just dropped off at college.

So, she’s now an empty-nester. She and Mike have sold their beautiful house in a cul-de-sac, and Mike informs her that he’s filing for divorce. Boo-hoo. Then we learn about all her neighbors, most of whom are friends whom she’s known for a couple of decades and, like her, at least one in each household works for either the CIA or the FBI.


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