Read an Excerpt from the Upcoming Spy Novel that Charlize Theron Is Producing and Starring In

Focus Features

Charlize Theron isn't quite done playing spy games with Russians.

The 42-year-old South African star of Atomic Blonde is set to take on another espionage-heavy role, this time in an adaptation of new novel set to debut Jan. 23.

First-time author Karen Cleveland is actually a former CIA analyst who specialized in counterterrorism. Her first novel, Need to Know, is a fictional tale of loyalty, trust, spies and paranoia that is already being compared to the smash 2012 hit Gone Girl -- a serious page-turner with numerous plot twists.

Need to Know has already garnered enough buzz to lead to lead to a movie deal with Universal, with Theron set to not only produce, but also star as the main character, the fictional CIA analyst Vivian Miller.

Read the excerpt below from Chapter 3 to get a taste of what's in store.

Random House

I feel like the floor has dropped out from under me. Like I’m falling, floating, suspended in some space where I’m watching myself, watching this unfold, but I’m not part of it, because it’s not real. There’s a ringing in my ears, a strange tinny sound.

I didn’t expect a yes. In saying those words, accusing him of the worst possible transgression, I thought he might admit to something lesser. I met with someone once, he’d say. But I swear, Viv, I’m not working for them.

Or just righteous indignation. How could you think such a thing?

I never expected a yes.

Twenty-two years. I focus on the number because it’s something tangible, something concrete. Thirty-seven minus twenty-two. He would have been fifteen at the time. In high school in Seattle.

That doesn’t make any sense.

At fifteen he played JV baseball. Trumpet in the school band. Mowed lawns in his neighborhood for extra cash.

I don’t understand.

Twenty-two years.

I put my fingertips to my temples. The ringing in my head won’t stop. It’s like something’s there, some realization, only it’s so awful I can’t wrap my head around it, can’t acknowledge it’s real, because my whole world will come crashing down.

Twenty-two years.

My algorithm was supposed to lead me to a Russian agent handling sleepers in the U.S.

Twenty-two years.

And then a line from an old intel report runs through my head. An SVR asset familiar with the program. They recruit kids as young as fifteen.

I close my eyes and press harder against my temples.

Matt’s not who he says he is.

Excerpted from Need to Know by Karen Cleveland. Copyright © 2018 by Karen Cleveland. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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