The Informationist

The Informationist by Taylor Stevens, Vanessa Michael Munroe #1

Vanessa Munroe deals in information - covert information. With an extraordinary intellect, a physique that allows her to pass as either male or female, and ruthless martial arts skills, she offers a unique service to anyone - government or individual - who'll pay her.

Now a Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his daughter, who vanished in Africa four years earlier. Where international investigators have tried and failed, Munroe follows a cold trail far into the lawless lands of central Africa.

And then things spin out of control.

Pulled deep into the mystery of the missing girl, Munroe finds herself cut off from civilisation and left for dead. Her only hope of discovering the truth - and of getting out of Africa alive - is to face up to the violent past that she's fought so hard to forget.


The Informationist is Taylor Steven's first book in the Vanessa Michael Munroe series and has gained a lot of praise in the United States back in 2011 and made the New York Time bestselling list. Last year Arrow Publishing released this book in the UK and I can clearly see why they wanted to bring this book to the UK. When I came across this title in the catalogue it immediately caught my attention, I really like the synopsis of The Informationist but also with the Jack Reacher and Jason Bourne references, this book had to be good, and perhaps to top it all off, The Informationist has been opted to be adapted to the big screen!   

What falls to note from the turning of the first page is the strong female lead that Taylor Stevens creates with Vanessa. You get introduced to her character as she is just now acting in her field of business traveling the globe to deal in her information and by this not ever having not a jet-lag. Soon you do come to see that this particular field of work is more dangerous that you first would have guessed and that it offers the opportunity to make some money. In this field Vanessa is one of the best, well she is the best. Soon it comes to show that Vanessa has a past that made so deadly and dangerous. With the information dealing you might think she is script kiddie/nerdy type of person but it more of the direct opposite she knows how to stand her own man in this competitive business! Taylot Stevens has made Vanessa a very versatile character, showing on many fronts a hardened determined women but with her troubled past and a sort of psychoses, makes her hard to clearly pin down. What I also liked about Vanessa is that she is curious. On the first Vanessa didn't want to accept the job (I will get to that later), but after hearing the story that everyone so far has failed, she get curious and she knows she is the best in the field. But will this impulsive attitude cause a win or a miss in her new mission? 

The story of The Informationist, revolves around finding a missing person and not just someone that recently got missed, she has been missing for over four years now. Vanessa is hired by a rich oil magnate, Richard Burbank, to find his missing daughter Emily. Emily disappeared in Africa and the best private detectives that money can buy haven't found her to date. Vanessa after some discussions, accepts the job, well actually it's the other way around, Richard Burbank has to accept on her terms, just love that part! Anyway, Vanessa travels to Africa to chase various leads surrounding Emily, Vanessa does have one advantage, Africa is her "home turf" but it proves to be much harder... Normally Vanessa works solo but for the sake of this missions Richard Burbank adds one of his own people to work Vanessa, Bradford. I first had some thoughts about Bradford's character whether he would be an OK guy at all, being forced to work together with Vanessa and when something happens halfway into the story he up and suddenly disappears my feelings only strengthened that there had to be something more, but Taylor Stevens threw a nice curveball with his character in a completely different direction. Ok, so as you can make up the plot suddenly changes in Africa. And now Vanessa is fearing for her own life, deep in the jungles of Equatorial Guinea. If you think the events leading up to the change were a rollercoaster ride, think again, because after the events that happen to Vanessa, the pacing becomes pretty intense. Nearing the ending of the book there are many revealings in the plot-line that came as total surprises to me. Like the real intentions of Richard Burbank but also what actually happened to Emily and why all of a sudden they are out on Vanessa her own life. And if that wasn't enough Taylor Stevens also starts to show Bradford's intentions, it might not be a 100% ok of what Bradford did in the past, but his determined becomes clearer. 

As for the whole setting of the book and the places visited for me it was well contructed. You have to clear "homebase" kind off feeling when Vanessa is in the United States with Kate her most trusted of friends and the whole setting of danger in Africa with corrupt officials and policemen. It really nailed the perfect setting for me. Especially when you have an agent well versed in language and fighting as Vanessa. And I have to admit she is maybe a bit to perfect in all that she can do but come on, it's still fiction and makes up for a great story. This "perfectness" is all she can do was for me balanced out by the complexity of her character mainly due her past. Another thing that readily add a nice pacing to the story are the interactions between several characters and Vanessa, here her relationship with Fransisco is very interesting to read about, it seems that on one level she wants to be as free as possible doing her own thing but on another level that she wants to be loved and start to build something. All great stuff. 

The Informationist is a great thriller and great start of a new and exciting series. From the opening sentence till the end, The Informationist brings you directly and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The pacing of the book is great and is a non stop ride, this for me was owed to an interesting female lead that comes over as a very determined person on the first go but once you get to delve deeper in Vanessa and her dark past there is a whole can of worms that made her how she is today. Taylor Stevens is off to good start, she knows what she wants to write and writes it all with a definite confidence. I already mentioned that this series has been opted to be adapted to the big screen, I hope to hear more of it soon, just like the book, this could be the next blockbuster!

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