With a thrilling plot and a compelling cast of characters, The New Neighbor earns an easy five stars from me.
What is it that I love so much about it? Um, everything, I think, but let’s get a little more specific.
The writing is wonderful, not fanciful. The language isn’t showy and over the top. It is written in the exact way a thriller should be written: straightforward but with emotion, compelling but with pauses in the action to help us understand our characters. It gives me somewhat the same feel as Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s joint writing style, though that may just be because I adore all of their writing so fully.
Beyond strictly the writing, I enjoyed the way the characters were crafted. Suspicion fell on almost everyone without the author being too blunt and obvious about who should or shouldn’t be branded a villain until nearer the end. I also cared deeply for the main character, and found myself rooting for her throughout her every move. I really connected with her in a way that isn’t always easy for me to do.
Though there are elements of The New Neighbor that are very much CIA- and FBI-based, I wasn’t confused at all. Cleveland made it all easy to understand, without feeling as though she was talking down to me (a mere mortal who doesn’t understand governmental agency procedures).
I also have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by the pro-America theme to this story. There was much talk, and thought, regarding the importance of people in these high-level government positions being unwavering in their faith to their country, and how disastrous things can get when there are traitors among them. The main character also swore allegiance to her country, first and foremost, her friendships coming second to her most important task: keeping America and Americans safe. I absolutely love this, because it’s something I rarely see in books lately, so it adds a whole new depth to the story that most today simply do not possess. Yay for innovative ideas!
Bravo, Karen Cleveland. You’ve written a lovely novel. Please don’t ever stop writing.