Book Review: The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

The Informationist by Taylor StevensThere is something about this cover that strongly attracts me as well as an element of “popular bestseller cover” that does not attract me. In any case, the cover intrigues me, and, if you read my blog more often, you know that I’m a cover person. I do think I can tell a book by its cover.

I think I got it right again. There was indeed some unlikely bestseller action in this book, but also a lot that attracted me, such as the strong woman protagonist, the missing girl, the location of the events (inaccessible countries in Africa).

The Informationist: What it is about

Vanessa Michael Munroe is a tough woman. Her job is to obtain information in countries where others don’t manage. She’s escaped a traumatic girlhood in Africa, which has made her very resourceful.

She’s hired by a rich American, Richard Burbank, whose stepdaughter went missing in Africa four years ago. Several times he’s hired people to try and find her but they have not succeeded. As a last resort, he’s paying Vanessa, who is more commonly known as Michael, a lot of money to spend a year of her time tracking the girl down.

Michael prefers to work alone, but Burbank insists that “one of his men”, Miles Bradford, accompanies her.

Soon they are looking in totally different countries than the previous investigators. But authorities, badly organised at the best of times, seem to conspire against her and threaten her. And who keeps giving away her position and plans? She doesn’t give up, but gets in some very dangerous situations, meets up with old friends and faces her own demons now that she’s back in the place that she was in such a hurry to leave nine years ago.

The Informationist: What I thought

I’m a scaredy cat and I think there are many places I’d never want to go for a holiday or other reason. This book gave me a great sense of some of the darkest places of Africa without actually having to travel there myself!

I loved the sense of place and the inside knowledge the author obviously has. This was used very well through Michael, who often had to explain the country’s customs to Miles, but it was always in passing. It never felt the author was trying to teach me something new.

At first, I was slightly disappointed by the fact that Miles Bradford had to come along. This seemed like such a cheap way to add a love-interest for Michael to the story. But as it turned out, it was nothing like that.

There is a lot of action in the book which felt a little over the top. Also the fact that Michael managed to survive all kinds of impossible situations seemed improbable. But Michael was a kind of Lisbet Salander (Millenium books by Stieg Larsson): her background was very sad and tough, she learned to survive by using her wits and skills and didn’t shrink back from killing someone if necessary.

But I also admired Michael for being such a tough cookie and I would love to be able to walk into any scary country by myself and know that I had the skills to not end up in a dark corner never to be seen again.

I enjoyed reading this book, a debut, and I’m curious to read the sequel, The Innocent, to see what new story Michael is involved in next.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book: for review from the Publishers, Crown Publishing

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 336

First published: 2011

Genre: thriller

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

19 Responses to Book Review: The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

  1. The publisher has offered to send this to me and so I am waiting for it to appear… I was a little worried that it could be great or terrible, so I’m glad that your review was pretty positive!

  2. I think I will put this on my list after reading your review. Glad to see you enjoyed it and left your comfort zone a little bit. 🙂

  3. Suzanne says:

    I’ll need to move this book up on the pile. Like you, I’m a scaredy cat but love to travel to dangerous places through books!
    Nice review.

  4. Thanks for the honest book review. I love that the setting is in Africa, I don’t often get a chance to read books from that area of the world. I do like Stieg’s books, so this might be something I like.

  5. Cindy says:

    Sounds very interesting, Judith 🙂

  6. Beth F says:

    Well of course Michael grew up there and was more knowledgeable than the average person. I really liked this one.

  7. Uniflame says:

    Hmmm there are elements about this book that make me want to read it, but there are also elements that put me off. I am not sure yet.

  8. Leslie says:

    Sounds like a book I’d enjoy. If I want to read it this year I’d better get it in audio. I’m still listening more than I’m reading.

  9. Pingback: The Informationist by Taylor Stevens | Word Lily

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