This strikingly solid debut from Taylor Stevens is already earning some remarkably weighty comparisons, most notably to Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne trilogy and Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander series. The first in a plan for at least three books, The Informationist introduces us to Vanessa Michael Munroe. Munroe is certainly the love child of Bourne and Salander, a fierce fighting machine with a gift for technology and an ability to blend into any environment. But she also has a unique feature that most thriller protagonists can’t touch: Munroe’s past is based heavily on Stevens’ own history. Born into the controversial Children of God cult, Stevens travelled the world under conditions of harsh discipline and intense violence. Ultimately fleeing the commune but never quite able to escape the demons it awakened within her, the author endows her hero with a considerably more believable inner monologue than many similarly hardened good guys whose authors do not have the benefit of any ordeals relevant to their characters.
As Munroe runs all over central Africa trying to put down the terrifying reminders of her childhood in the region and pick up the cold trail of a missing girl, listeners encounter a dozen different local accents and several assorted languages, from German and French to Fang and Portuguese. Thankfully, Audie Award-winner and veteran narrator Hillary Huber is there to guide us through it. Her tough and sexy natural voice is a perfect fit for Munroe, and Huber’s deftly diligent rendering of each accent is an absolute delight to the ear. This international flavor is crucial to the ambience and pace of the story, and any lesser narrator would have taken all the life out of it. Though Stevens incorporates many traditional characters like the possibly nefarious Texan billionaire, the macho sidekick who can’t really keep up, and the rugged jungle gun-runner, The Informationist is brimming with fresh perspective and depth thanks to the one-two punch of Stevens’ wealth of personal experience and Huber’s professional savvy. Megan Volpert
Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information - expensive information - working for corporations, heads of state, private clients, and anyone else who can pay for her unique brand of expertise. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gunrunner and his mercenary crew when she was just fourteen. As his protégé, she earned the respect of the jungle's most dangerous men, cultivating her own reputation for years until something sent her running. After almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career from her home base in Dallas, she's never looked back.
A Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his daughter who vanished in Africa four years ago. It’s not her usual line of work, but she can’t resist the challenge. Pulled deep into the mystery of the missing girl, Munroe finds herself back in the lands of her childhood, betrayed, cut off from civilization, and left for dead. If she has any hope of escaping the jungle and the demons that drive her, she must come face-to-face with the past that she’s tried for so long to forget.
Gripping, ingenious, and impeccably paced, The Informationist marks the arrival or a thrilling new talent.
©2011 Taylor Stevens (P)2011 Random House Audio
“Stevens’s blazingly brilliant debut introduces a great new action heroine, Vanessa Michael Munroe, who doesn’t have to kick over a hornet’s nest to get attention, though her feral, take-no-prisoners attitude reflects the fire of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander….Thriller fans will eagerly await the sequel to this high-octane page-turner.” (Publishers Weekly)
This is a strong start to a series with the Vanessa Munroe character--girl with a past, a specific set of skills, tasked to find a missing girl in Africa. Though as I listened, I kept thinking of the Girl with the Dragon tattoo, it lacks the depth that the Salander character had. I could believe that she had this strange and troubled childhood that led to her current job, but Munroe lacked any vulnerability that would make her a more believable character. In troubling moments, she immediately had to kill someone with her bare hands, handle a knife, shoot a gun, etc.....it made her a little super human and unreal.
What made the book interesting was the intricacies of maneuvering through Africa, her knowledge of languages, that she was intelligent and yes...that she could physically defend herself.
Hilary Huber does a pretty good job with the narration. She's not great with male voices, but with all the books I've listened to, I haven't found many to be.
definitely one of the top listens
her primal fury at the death of her would be partner Ferdinand. But more than this the intelligence that she shows throughout the book
The intensity and dominance of the female protaganoist
This is heart pounding non stop action. Well written with an excellent reader. Hillary Huber can make you live the story.
I guessed "who did it," at the beginning, so there wasn't a lot of suspense. The author uses words to paint detailed descriptions so it felt like I was there and knew the characters. However, the story dragged and the ending was lame and unfufilling.
Ridiculous! Unbelievable attempt at espionage. I couldn't even listen past the first hour, and I would like my credit back. Too bad that isn't an option.
This is expository writing and that is it. No poetry whatsoever, just corny. The book was good only for putting me to sleep at night, knowing that in the morning I didn't miss anything particularly interesting.
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