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Book Review: ‘The Informationist’ is intense thriller

“The Informationist” (Crown), by Taylor Stevens

Vanessa Munroe — known to her clients as “Michael” or “Munroe” — specializes in extracting valuable information for anyone who can pay for it, from wealthy individuals to heads of state.

Munroe has a gift for compiling a thorough dossier in any circumstance, any country, under any regime. She speaks 22 languages (not counting dialects), and her knack for picking up local customs allows her to blend in and manipulate almost any situation to her advantage.

She was born to missionaries in central Africa, and by the age of 14 had taken up with a group of gunrunning mercenaries who taught her to fight. She eventually became as feared as her mentor, but a violent, traumatic experience led her to flee the continent.

So when Richard Burbank, a Texas oil tycoon, hires her to find his daughter who disappeared in Africa four years ago, Munroe is at first reluctant to take the case — she doesn’t work missing person cases. But the facts in Emily Burbank’s disappearance don’t add up, and Munroe finds herself back in a place she didn’t think she’d ever see again.

“The Informationist,” Taylor Stevens’ debut novel, starts out a bit slow, but not sluggish. There’s a lot of groundwork to put down and a measured, deliberate buildup to the point at which Munroe is attacked, drugged and led out into the ocean on a boat, where she comes to as she’s about to be killed by her abductors.

Obviously someone doesn’t want Munroe to find Emily.

It’s at this point the real adventure starts, the action doesn’t let up and the book will refuse to be put down. Munroe’s escape brings her to the man she once loved, who now has cause and means to further betray her to enemy forces.

“The Informationist” is a remarkable thriller; intense and heartbreaking, with a chilling, killer climax.

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