Book Review: The Informationist by Taylor Stevens
November 8, 2011 19 Comments
There 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.
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