Vivian is one of the CIA’s strongest analysts. For years she’s been working on Russian sleepers and now she is close to digging out a complete cell. When she finally enters the document with the information she has been searching for for such a long time, her heart skips a beat: she knows one of the five sleepers. She knows him very well. He shares her life with him. He is her husband and father of their four kids. Looking back at the years they have spent together, a lot of things now appear in a completely new light. What is to be done? Can she really turn her husband in or is there a way out?
Karen Cleveland has written a masterful debut with a very classic setting that combines the typical spy and double agent/sleeper plot with a very personal dilemma which cannot really be solved. You can hardly put down the novel since it moves at such a high pace adding one crisis to the next that, quite often, you just wish for the protagonist that everything is just over.
At the centre of the novel is a very cleverly created catch-22 dilemma. Vivian can be either loyal to her employer and her country or to her husband – whom she cannot actually trust anymore, but he is the father of her kids. Once fallen into the trap of the Russians herself, she cannot get out without risking not only to lose her husband but also her kids and go to jail. It is a vicious circle, the more she tries to get out of it all, the deeper she entangles herself in it all. Apart from this great impasse, Cleveland has some interesting turns to offer which come unexpected and hit you hard.