The Informationist (Vanessa Michael Munroe Series #1)

( 285 )

Overview

Governments pay her.
Criminals fear her.
Nobody sees her coming.

Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information. After escaping a traumatic childhood in lawless central Africa, she is now sought after by corporations, heads of state, and private clients who can afford her unique brand of expertise.
When a Texas oil billionaire hires her to find his daughter who has vanished in...

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Overview

Governments pay her.
Criminals fear her.
Nobody sees her coming.

Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information. After escaping a traumatic childhood in lawless central Africa, she is now sought after by corporations, heads of state, and private clients who can afford her unique brand of expertise.
When a Texas oil billionaire hires her to find his daughter who has vanished in Africa, Munroe finds herself back in the darklands she once knew so well, fighting mysterious forces determined to keep the fate of the missing girl a secret. If she has any hope of getting out of the jungle alive, Munroe must finally face up to the demons of the past she’s tried for so long to forget.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. Nine years have passed since Munroe, the daughter of American missionaries, escaped Cameroon at age 15 after a violent incident. She's forged a new life in Texas as an "informationist," a person who specializes in gathering information about developing countries for corporations. Munroe's best friend, marketing consultant Kate Breeden, refers her to Miles Bradford, a high-stakes security pro, who believes she's the perfect choice to help Houston oilman Richard Burbank find his adopted daughter, Emily, who vanished four years earlier at age 18 while vacationing in west central Africa. Munroe returns to Africa, where she reconnects with her ex-boyfriend, Francisco Beyard, a sexy drug- and gun-running businessman, who assists in the dangerous search for Emily. Thriller fans will eagerly await the sequel to this high-octane page-turner. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"An irresistible, gorgeously written thriller....impossible-to-put-down....Hollywood, let the casting wars begin."—The Dallas Morning News

“Extraordinary….No one has written a more exhilarating, adroit, and stylish debut for a suspense series since Raymond Chandler introduced Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep back in 1939."—TheDailyBeast.com

"A globe-trotting thriller. . . . The Informationist is an accessible, crisply told tale."—NYTimes.com

"One can't help but think that Munroe and Salander are lone wolves who, if they ever had a chance to meet, might discover they are really part of the same hunting pack...Stevens...writes with the confidence of one who knows she's hit on a winning series character who has the world at her beck and call."Los Angeles Times

"The Informationist is a remarkable thriller; intense and heartbreaking, with a chilling, killer climax."- Associated Press

"In the wake of the stunning success of Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo comes a thriller by an American writer whose protagonist is drawing comparisons to Lisbeth Salander. The good news: Vanessa Munroe, the woman at the center of The Informationist, Taylor Stevens' debut novel, lives up to the hype. Best of all, Munroe evokes the spirit and intelligence of the gutsy, damaged Salander, but she's far from derivative...Much will be made of the similarities between Munroe and Salander. But in some ways, Munroe's brooding personality and her ability to blend in to her surroundings bring to mind the provocative Jason Bourne. Thank goodness a sequel to this fiery novel is in the works."—USA Today

"Vanessa Munroe is the book world’s newest tough-girl action hero."- New York Post

"A Dazzling new thriller...The Informationist is Steven's first novel but it reads as if she's already a master of the genre."—New York Daily News 

"Stevens' debut novel, The Informationist [is] an international thriller featuring a most unusual hero."Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"The star of this novel- an androgynous espionage agent named Vanessa Munroe- boasts a mysterious past and impressive survival skills."- Entertainment Weekly 

"Taylor Stevens in her first novel has achieved the gripping story telling technique of many acclaimed authors."- Paramus Post

"The Informationist pushes every one of my buttons: exotic locale, sassy and competent protagonist, crisp dialogue and nonstop action. A fine debut—can’t wait for the sequel!"—Book Page, Bruce Tierney

"Stevens’ debut novel is as compelling as her actual back story. Like Vanessa Munroe, a heroine haunted by her hijacked childhood, Stevens was raised all over the world in a religious cult. But the similarity ends there in this breathless, international thrill ride as Vanessa lies, kills and uses her incredible gift for getting what she wants. But underneath all the action is an even more powerful story of a woman trying to make peace with her personal demons."—Family Circle, Darcy Jacobs

"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 (Starred, boxed review)

"Stevens has penned a fast-paced, gripping, edgy mystery with a heroine whom even Lisbeth Salander would admire."—Library Journal (Starred)

“Dazzling…Munroe is a model of an emerging action heroine: like Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, not a guy in a girl suit but not one to whimper in the corner, either.”—Booklist
 
"A riveting procedural, and a multi-dimensional thriller, with a heroine that hooks you from her first appearance."—OpenLetters.com

"An utterly smashing debut, starring an unforgettable heroine who could go toe to toe with Lisbeth Salander—and claw her way on top. One of the best thrillers of the year!"—Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of ICE COLD

"With its break-neck pacing set against the simmering violence of Central Africa, THE INFORMATIONIST is a thriller of the highest caliber. Michael Munroe is a heroine you’ve never seen before—a shape-shifter who’s sharp, fast, and deadly, but still vulnerable to her own demons. Powered by intricate plotting that leads to a climax on a grand scale, this novel announces Taylor Stevens as a writer to watch."—Colin Harrison  

"A turbo-charged debut with a protagonist as deadly as she is irresistible. With THE INFORMATIONIST Taylor Stevens has crafted a thriller that’s smart, sexy, fast-paced—and impossible to put down."
—Vince Flynn

"A terrific thriller with piercing tension, chest-tightening adventure, and a one-of-a-kind heroine I’ve continued to think about long after finishing the last page.  Taylor Stevens is a born storyteller. I couldn’t put THE INFORMATIONIST down."
—Michael Palmer, author of The Last Surgeon

"Stevens debuts with a tightly written thriller woven around an uncommon heroine with a knack for putting facts together and coming up with the right answers...the writing is stellar, the heroine grittier than Lara Croft and the African setting so vivid that readers can smell the jungle and feel the heat—a gifted debut with much promise."—Kirkus

 



Library Journal
In Stevens's debut novel, Vanessa Munroe's current case might be her last. Having spent her life distancing herself from her sordid childhood in Africa, Munroe has based her career on the skills she acquired there. She is an informationist and linguist with the ability to blend into any country and obtain the knowledge sought by her high-paying clients. Her current client is a distraught father whose daughter, Emily, vanished four years ago in Africa. After Emily's safari group finished its tour, she decided to stay on to travel more with two men she met on the tour. Of the three, only one returned. Emily disappeared, and the last man who saw her now resides in a mental institution. Munroe is intrigued by what previous investigators might have missed, but she is unprepared for what awaits her in Africa. VERDICT Stevens has penned a fast-paced, gripping, edgy mystery with a heroine whom even Lisbeth Salander would admire. Recommended for all contemporary thriller fiction fans who like thrillers similar to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/10.]—Susan O. Moritz, Montgomery Cty. P.L., MD
Kirkus Reviews

Stevens debuts with a tightly written thriller woven around an uncommon heroine with a knack for putting facts together and coming up with the right answers.

Vanessa Michael Munroe is both beautiful and androgynous at the same time. A chameleon by nature, she is Munroe to some, the boy Michael to others and Nessa to a very select few. Munroe hires herself out to glean information for international businesses. She has an encyclopedic and logical mind that stores, sorts and processes information. She can pass for a man or woman, whichever suits her purposes, and most important of all, she has a facility for languages that once sent the CIA calling to recruit her. It's this ability to pick up a language after a short exposure that makes her adversaries underestimate her. That, and of course, her violent past, which also gives her a hard edge, as well as the skills to kill without remorse or second thought. Munroe is hired by oil tycoon Richard Burbank to find out what happened to his stepdaughter, Emily, who disappeared in West Central Africa four years ago. Burbank sends along a babysitter, Miles Bradford, to help Munroe and report back to him. Munroe resents Bradford; she grew up in this part of Africa and not only speaks the dialects but also understands the geography, culture and politics. Still, the money that's offered is interesting and Munroe likes a challenge, so she takes the case, and plunges into the heat, chaos and treachery of countries run by dictators and greed. For a while the pair seems to be on the right track, but soon things go very wrong and Munroe finds herself facing her past and having to make a choice that she doesn't want to contemplate. When it comes down to the pivotal moment, Munroe won't know whom to trust and whom to kill.

Stevens' novel wanders a little, particularly at the end, but the writing is stellar, the heroine grittier than Lara Croft and the African setting so vivid that readers can smell the jungle and feel the heat—a gifted debut with much promise.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594466352
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/8/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.76 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Taylor Stevens

TAYLOR STEVENS is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Catch, The Doll, and The Innocent, all featuring Vanessa Michael Munroe. Her novels have received critical acclaim, have been published in twenty languages, and The Informationist has been optioned for film by James Cameron's production company, Lightstorm Entertainment. Raised in communes across the globe and denied an education beyond the sixth grade, Stevens broke free of the Children of God and now lives in Texas, where she is currently at work on the next Munroe adventure.

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Interviews & Essays

Essay by Taylor Stevens, Author of THE INFORMATIONIST

At first blush, Equatorial Guinea sounds familiar. Certainly the "Guinea" part of it. But try finding it on a map without a magnifying glass and you might spend hours looking. I know this, because that's what happened to me the first time I set out in quest of it, trying to track down the origin of a postage stamp I held in my hand. I was fourteen and had already lived on three continents and in roughly a dozen countries, soI'd been around a bit and I wasn't searching in, say, South America. I did eventually find my prize: two tiny specks, halves, one part sandwiched between Cameroon and Gabon and the other an island off of Africa's west coast. Never in my wildest imagination could I have predicted that thirteen years later, I would be living on one of those tiny specks.

By the time Bioko Island bleeped on my radar, I'd already spent a yearandahalf living in East Africa, and had backpacked the 1700 miles from Nairobi, Kenya to Livingstone, Zambia, and up again, but I still wasn't prepared for the experience of Equatorial Guinea: a world of its own, the land that time forgot, nestled at the edge of civilization.

I'm often asked how much of the setting within THE INFORMATIONIST is real, and if any of the events described within Malabo, the country's capital, could have ever actually happened. They would, and they did, and most of the Malabo scenes were drawn from real life experience. These were some of the most difficult parts of the book to construct, the issue not in painting the landscape, but dampening it sufficiently in order to avoid turning the book into a travelogue, and to keep the action moving.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 285 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(121)

4 Star

(86)

3 Star

(46)

2 Star

(23)

1 Star

(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 286 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 16, 2011

    Hilarious! -- 1/2 a star!

    The heroine, Michael, is a mish mash of Mati Hari & the Terminator! Why are former Special Forces & SEAL members afraid of her? Who knows! Could it be here "special" knife training whereby she was raped repeatedly for years; naturally her confidant and mentor was unaware of the situation. Now there's a great analogy -- getting raped leads to martial arts expertise! Really, The Informationist is a lurid, underdeveloped, and implausible novel. Remember: Having the ability to write a good term paper can lead to a life of international intrique & the ability to stare down mercenaries and criminals of every sort. Warning: this novel is NOTHING like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo! Avoid at all cost!

    14 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2011

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED !!!!!!!

    Taylor Stevens' "The Informationist" is an absolute must read. If I had to compare the writing style to other remarkable authors I'd have to say, "Wilbur Smith meets Stieg Larsson." Taylor brings the story to life with the vivid details and precise depiction of a land and people foreign to most. And for those who have firsthand knowledge of the inner politics, land, and peoples of Africa, you won't be disappointed in the true to life descriptions. I was reading through this so fast I was trying to make myself slow down so it would last longer. However, being the page-turner it is that didn't work, so I just read it twice. I have no doubt Taylor Stevens is going to be a household name. I'm looking forward to more Vanessa Michael Munroe attitude and adventure. You will not regret buying a copy for yourself and another to pass on to a friend.
    "To my fellow childhood survivors -- you know who you are." Thank you Taylor!

    14 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An Exceptionally Dull Book

    The cover says that The Informationist is "A Thriller." That's a huge overstatement as I wasn't thrilled except to close the book when I finished it. The story is simply not interesting. Sure, there is some mystery there, but the main character is hardly believable. The bad guys in Equatorial Guinea are cardboard characters, and the various others simply not credible for being whom they are supposed to be. It seems that the author just creates one jam after another for the main character to get out of, and none of these jams are really very believable. The constant flipping of who is on her side seems highly contrived. Dull is the most succinct definition for this novel.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2012

    Ridiculous

    This book is nothing like Steig Larsson's. If I could have given it less than one star, I would have. The character is drawn with no redeeming value, her unfeeling blood lust is macabre. She is morally bankrupt and the people who help her do so for no apparent reason. The geography is confusing, the characters one-note. The plot is poor at best. The author pushes her knowledge of the area in a pedantic way, but we are given too much of the weirdness and not enough of the background of a complex setting. There were basic mistakes in comparisons and descriptions (electric engine). I want my money back, and compensation for my time. It was just awful.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Can't Get Enough

    Every reader who craves action and adventure will love this book. It is nonstop from cover to cover. The heroine, Vanessa, who goes by as many names as she has personae, is a kick-ass force of nature. She can be as fierce and deadly as a black mamba snake or as elegant and smooth as a high paid call girl on the make. She is multilingual, highly intelligent and lethal. Her preferred job is collecting highly sensitive, often obscure, yet very valuable information, which she sells to high paying clients around the world. She receives an unusual request to attempt to find an industrialist's daughter who has been missing in Africa for four years. All attempts to find her so far have come up short. The girl's father believes Vanessa is his last hope to find his daughter. Vanessa hasn't been back to her homeland of central Africa for years because of the memories of the people, alive and dead, which she left there long ago. Those memories will revive in her the rage and darkness which have been her hell and her salvation through numerous life threatening forays. Although preferring to work alone, her employer saddles her with a companion, who while highly skilled in his own right, is hardly a match for Vanessa's savage world. All the juju that she can call up will be needed to fight her enemies both past and present as she cuts her way deeper and deeper into the mystery that is awaiting in Africa. This book provided for review by the well read folks of Crown Publishers.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    Great read

    First book in a long time that had my total attention! I loved it! I will start The Innocent right away!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2010

    Mesmerising and Intense, a MUST read for fans of fiction everywhere!

    Taylor Stevens, in her first published work, mesmerises. At once well constructed and defined, as well as thought provoking and entertaining; The Inofrmationist left me longing for more. Her prose breathes intensity and life into her heroine which left this reader feeling a remarkable camaraderie with her champion of the vulnerable.

    Taylor Stevens is one to watch...if this book is any indication as to her future in fiction, I am decidedly excited to read what follows. What has this reader even more interested (if that were possible)is her personal biography, which can be found on her facebook page. One can only hope, at some point, that Miss Stevens sets aside her fiction and gives us a bit more of her own journey...but not until the saga of Vanessa Michael Munroe is played out to the end.

    While ANY appreciator of good writing, framing unique situations, will be enrapt; readers of the thriller genre, most specifically, fans of the late great Steig Larsson, will find this book a welcome respite from the hole he left behind. Thank God Stevens is here to fill it.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2013

    A good read!

    Strong character development and exciting plot plot. Highly recommend it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    This book was so good that I stayed up all night finishing it and had to call in sick to work the following day. It's not to be missed.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2011

    OK

    Lizbeth Salander has nothing to worry about. This was an OK book, but in my opinion Lizbeth still holds the corner on the market when it comes to heroines. The book would have been a lot better if the author had included a map. I spent a lot of time with my World Atlas just following the geography Anne Smith

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2011

    Have your tissue ready!

    I downloaded this book for an upcoming trip. I thought I would read the first chapter before the trip and I was hooked! I finished the entire book in 3 days. It was well written, from the heart, and Conor's mission is incredible. What a remarkable journey. I loved the ending. ... a real story of inspiration and love!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Excellent

    Have read this and the 2nd in the series. Can't wait for the 3rd to be released. Love the protaganist, Munroe.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    Laura Croft meets Nikita meets the Dragon Tatoo

    If my book club had not chosen this as a monthly selection I probably would have never discovered it--on the surface, not my kind of thing--but I am SO glad I jumped in! Tough, lean, descriptive prose--nothing is superflous--and a herione, that yes, is WAY over the top, but that's the biggest part of the fun. Munroe is a woman that, let's face it, many of us fantasize about being: sexy, lethal, brilliant, world-weary, fearless: a female Bryonic hero. Set in exotic locales in Africa and the Middle East, the novel sets a fast, involving pace from the beginning and doesn't let up. Some warning, however, in that the violence comes quickly and brutually--especially at the end. But the novel leaves you breathless.

    Stevens knows how to write in a cinematic fashion--you can picture this on screen thru every page: Angelina Jolie awaits, undoubtedly.

    While I found the follow up novel, "The Innocent" much less interesting and more dragging, this one won me over and I look forward to Stevens' third Munroe book. It's a wild over the top ride; take it and have some fun.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2011

    Highly Recommend - MUST READ

    If your tired of the same old thrillers and mysterys, you have to try this book. I bought it as a whim and couldn't put it down. I have a bad habit of skimming over some of the writing in books and this one I did not. I read ever word afraid I would miss something. The characters are real and loved the descriptive way Taylor describes the country and cultures. Her next book will be out in Dec and I cannot wait.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Informationist is a great read

    I am ashamed to admit I picked up The Informationist only after finding I had nothing else to read. I had read no reviews - or even the jacket cover. I spent the first few pages confused - as confused as Munroe's "targets" - but soon was unable to put it down.

    Stevens' writing allows the reader to gradually and almost subconsciously understand the characters, surroundings and plotlines, without the clumsy explanatory dialogue or detailed background information I have found so annoying in other books. The story is fast-paced and action-packed. But what really intrigued me were the characters.

    Vanessa Michael Munroe is a cultural chameleon, linguistic savant and unrivaled information gatherer and analyst with a tortured and violent past and a self-acknowledged tentative hold on sanity - a complex and richly developed character I came to care for deeply. The secondary characters are equally dimensional and I found myself quite invested in their fates - any one of them could support an entire book of his own.

    I hope Stevens continues to write stories like this one that keep me thinking long after the last page is turned.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2011

    A heroine like no other

    I was hesitant to get this based on the description, but was hooked by page 5. Ms. Stevens created an incredible heroine and I do hope it's not the last time we will see "Michael". The setting was new and though the plot complicated, it seemed completely believable. The action scenes were vivid and brutally realistic. If you want to escape with a thriller and a touch of romance, you will not be disappointed by The Informationist!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2014

    Seriously good read. The denouement/explanation of what the hell

    Seriously good read. The denouement/explanation of what the hell is going on was a little confusing, but I think that may have just been mental fatigue on my part.

    Vanessa Michael Monroe is a kick-ass character, both figuratively and literally. She's not exactly likable in the traditional sense, but you can't really help but root for her as you get to know her. She's not endearing and she's pretty vengeful, but she has a strong sense of loyalty and curiousity (that hunt for information and knowledge) that are appealing traits.

    I won't get into the plot. This is a thriller and follows most of your usual thriller plot directions. But the execution was great and the characters really make this particular thriller pop.

    I saw a cover blurb that said this was like a combination of Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander and Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourn books and I think that's kind of spot on. Except these are better than Larsson's books because Stevens doesn't go off on fifty page tangents about financial and political journalism ;-)

    Definitely recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2014

    Good read

    For those who enjoy a good adventure in less than known surrounding, this is a gran d adventure with a satisfying number of plot twists. The heroine is somewhat larger than life, but I can't wait to see how she developes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    Action-packed

    Great story

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    Interesting Character and Location

    I enjoyed this book for a thriller read. It's about a woman lost in Africa and another woman who looks for her. Vanessa has several interesting skills, is very smart and is not deterred by danger. Interesting location, Cameroon. No a Jason Bourne, but a good read. I'll be looking for another book in the series.

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