The Informationist (Vanessa Michael Munroe Series #1)

The Informationist (Vanessa Michael Munroe Series #1)

by Taylor Stevens

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307717108
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 10/18/2011
Series: Vanessa Michael Munroe Series , #1
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 422,797
Product dimensions: 5.28(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

TAYLOR STEVENS is the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of The Innocent, The Doll, The Catch, The Mask, and the novella The Vessel. The series featuring Vanessa Michael Munroe has received critical acclaim and the books are published in twenty languages. The Informationist has been optioned for film by James Cameron's production company, Lightstorm Entertainment. Born in New York State, and into the Children of God, raised in communes across the globe and denied an education beyond sixth grade, Stevens was in her twenties when she broke free to follow hope and a vague idea of what possibilities lay beyond. She now lives in Texas, and is at work on the next Munroe novel.

What People are Saying About This

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

 



Interviews

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.

Customer Reviews

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The Informationist 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 327 reviews.
ZomBeeBonita More than 1 year ago
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!
KenCady More than 1 year ago
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.
klfordy More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First book in a long time that had my total attention! I loved it! I will start The Innocent right away!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Meg Gehl More than 1 year ago
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!
Ronrose More than 1 year ago
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.
AMA001 More than 1 year ago
Wonderful reading. A lot of action and  kept me interested from beginning to end. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This thriller starts fast and doesn't stop. Vanessa Michael Munroe is a complex character you will not forget. The international cities come alive in a manner not often seen in debut books. I've seen reviews that compare Munoe to Steig Larson's character, Lisabeth Sandler. While I don't see the resemblance in character (or writing style), I do think Larson fan's will love this book. And Stevens' book is much quicker get "into".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book by accident and I am so glad I did. Taylor Stevens spins a tale that will grab you by the collar and won't let you go. Her characters are full but not overly done and the storyline keeps you enthralled until the very end. The only disappointment was that it did end... but alas, she has two more that I snapped up immediately with a fourth in the series due out summer 2015. If you are looking for your next favorite author, then here she is!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
SSIII More than 1 year ago
Strong character development and exciting plot plot. Highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
CAMILNE More than 1 year ago
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.
goguins66 More than 1 year ago
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!
JimBobTex More than 1 year ago
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!
caitemaire on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Vanessa "Michael" Munroe has a very successful career gathering information.If you are an individual, a corporation, or a government that needs information, she is the best you can hire. She can blend into another culture, pose as all sorts of different characters and get the real information, see the hidden connections that tie the facts together and come up with the information that those who hire her will use to base their decisions on. She has an incredible, natural ability with languages, is very clever and is darn handy with a knife when she has to be.Finding missing people is not her usual job. But when she gets an offer, for a huge amount of money, to try and find the missing daughter of billionaire oilman Richard Burbank, she is intrigued. Emily disappeared four years ago while traveling as a tourist in Africa. He has hired team after team to try and find out what happen, if she is alive or dead, but each one came up clueless. Munroe is his last chance, he say, to find the truth of what happen.For Munroe, the trip where the clues lead, to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, will be a sort of a journey home. That is if she felt that she had a home. But it is the place she was born, to missionary parents, and it is the place she lived until nine years ago, when she killed a man and left the mercenary smuggler she had been working with. It is a past filled with terrible memories and a past that has left her with so many numerous scars, both physical and emotional, that at times she can barely keep the darkness and rage from overtaking her. "Returning to the past was inevitable. Somehow in the last nine years she'd managed to stay upright on a tightrope stretched between brilliance and insanity, the blackness of the abyss always with er, leaving her sometimes wondering if letting go might in the end be easiest of all." But soon after she gets there, things start to go very wrong. She finds herself drugged, shot and thrown off a boat and only because of her skills is able to narrowly survive. She finds herself alone and injured, in a wild and lawless nation, not knowing who betrayed her and who she can trust.And what does a missing young American girl have to do with any of this.If you read anything about this book, you can not miss the comparisons between Munroe and Lisbeth Salander. Yes, they are both androgynous, damaged young women with deadly skills and great intelligence. But this is no Larsson/Salander knockoff. No, Munroe is very much her own character. Her feelings and emotions, her anger, her fears seem so real that you can not help but think that they came from the actual emotions of the author, especially when you know the author's own story. Because I must admit that when I first read about this book, it was the author's story that I found as intriguing as the story outlined.Stevens was raised in a cult with little formal education, and her own life story would no doubt make a fascinating book of it's own. That this is her first book, written with so little formal education, makes it even more remarkable. Because this is a very well written book. The dialogue is great, the characters are great and the plot, while yes, a bit over the top at times but hey folks, this is a thriller, will grab you and pull you to the last page and a surprising and satisfying ending.Munroe is a great character. Maybe a bit too emotional for my taste because I like my borderline sociopaths to be a tiny bit more sociopathic. Oh please Ms. Stevens, do not make her too nice!! Keep the edge sharp! Still, I will be very interested to read Ms. Stevens next book, The Innocent, that will be out next year. I hope we have a lot more deep and dark secrets to find out about Vanessa and see what rip roaring adventure she will get us roped into.And you can not read this book but start to wonder who they will cast in the movie, because this would make one heck of a great movie!
dpappas on LibraryThing 2 days ago
This book was a solid debut by Taylor Stevens. Vanessa Munroe is definitely an odd but interesting character but I don't quite agree completely with the Lisbeth Salander comparisons. In the beginning I had a hard time keeping my interest in this book but after the first 100 pages it became much more interesting to me. The ending was great and I would be interested in reading the next book in the series.
cathyskye on LibraryThing 2 days ago
First Line: This is where he would die.Corporations, heads of state, private clients-- anyone who can pay her rates-- want the kind of information that only Vanessa "Michael" Munroe can find. Born in central Africa, Munroe's past is as shadowy as the sources of her information.Four years ago the daughter of a Texas oil billionaire vanished in Africa. He's never given up the search, and now he wants Munroe to try to find the young woman. It's not her usual line of work, but she can't resist the challenge. Pulled deep into the mystery, Munroe finds herself betrayed and left for dead-- but those who don't want her to succeed have no idea how powerful her determination and will to survive really are.For those of you who read according to the "Fifty Page Rule," be forewarned: the first fifty pages of The Informationist are a bit slow going until Stevens has set her scene and hit her stride. Once that happens, hang on to your hats.The political instability of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea as well as the unpredictable character of Vanessa Munroe make for an explosive combination in this book. When everything and everyone is potentially lethal, the reader is never certain where the next threat is coming from.Other than the slow beginning, the only thing that really bothered me was the identity of the bad guy. Whether we admit it or not, most readers of crime fiction and thrillers want a puzzle to pit their wits against. In most cases that puzzle is who done it, and the usual first question we armchair detectives ask ourselves is "Who stands to benefit the most from this death?" Perhaps because I'm such a cynical creature, I found the answer all too easy to discover.After reading this book, I did a little research. For those of you who are not familiar with Taylor Stevens' background, you may want to visit her website. She's every bit as interesting as her fictional character. (In fact, I'd give Stevens the edge in the fascination quotient.) As for Vanessa Munroe, I discovered that many were pairing her with another unpredictable, highly intelligent, super secretive character-- Lisbeth Salander. I've read and loved all three of Stieg Larsson's books, but I did not pair his character with Taylor's as I read. I will admit that there are similarities, but one is not a copy of the other. I wouldn't want to have either one of these women infuriated with me; there's no hole deep enough to hide from Lisbeth or Vanessa!As a lover of exotic locations and strong, unpredictable characters, I recommend this book. I look forward to reading the next Vanessa "Michael" Munroe adventure.
readingwithtea on LibraryThing 2 days ago
"There was something deeply affecting about language. If expected, it meant nothing. But if it came by surprise as a gesture of friendship, it was an instant opening, a form of flattery guaranteed to attain the objective for its master."Vanessa "Michael" Munroe does not take orders, particularly not from rich men. When she is offered a truly absurd amount of money to find a Texas oil billionaire's step-daughter, she has doubts about returning to the stomping-ground of her youth; yet to track down Emily she will not only have to go back to Equatorial Guinea, but she will have to tolerate being babysat by Burbank's eminently handsome mercenary, Miles Bradford.The first thing to note is that Munroe is very similar to Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander. She is damaged and reacts very negatively to human connections. She is bizarrely talented (in Munroe's case, she knows an absurd and really quite implausible number of languages) and attuned to the enemy's evil intentions. Nevertheless, she is quite different to Salander - more personable, reckless in a different sort of way, and her interpersonal relationships or lack thereof are less... disturbed... than Salander's.Stevens has written a plot fast-paced enough to keep a reader on their toes, while permitting for occasional introspective phases in which Munroe's demons air their grievances and she appears to almost lose control of herself. The setting is sufficiently obscure and remote that anything might happen there, and despite a large amount of travelling, the pace of the characters' movements seemed plausible. What would have been extremely helpful would be a map of Equatorial Guinea, where the vast majority of the action takes place. There was a lot of travel south and around islands and it was all a bit confusing.That said, I was rather more impressed with this debut than I expected to be, and I will be looking out for the next of Munroe's adventures.
nbmars on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Vanessa Michael Munroe is an ¿informationalist,¿ someone who is known as an expert in finding out what corporations need to know in any setting, especially in Africa, the land of her birth. Born to missionaries in Cameroon, she spent nearly eighteen years living in Africa, and speaks twenty-two languages. It serves her amazingly well in her job. Her reputation as one of the best at what she does leads oil millionaire Richard Burbank to hire her to find his daughter Emily, who disappeared four years earlier during an overland safari in Africa. He offers Munroe a great deal of money, but also insists she take along Miles Bradford, a contractor of Burbank¿s who is former Special Forces and now handles high-stakes private security.Africa is a dangerous, lawless place, and Munroe and Bradford find themselves followed, threatened, and almost killed more than once. However, even more so than Bradford, Munroe is expert at getting out of life-threatening situations. Etched with scars on the outside and hardened by scars on the inside, Munroe is a fierce fighter and a determined survivor. Even Bradford¿s past as Special Forces does not provide an advantage over Munroe¿s strength and determination.In Africa, the two hook up with Munroe¿s old mentor, Francisco Beyard, and the tension between the two men adds to an already hair-raising experience marked by violence and betrayal. It is clear that the question quickly becomes which of them will make it out of Africa alive, with or without solving the mystery of Emily.Discussion: Critics are finding the character of Munroe similar to Lisbeth from the Stieg Larsson books, and it¿s not an unreasonable comparison. If anything, Munroe seems a little ¿harder¿ to me. Much of the story was focused on her and how she got to be the way she is, and on the nightmare that is Equatorial Guinea, often listed as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The missing persons case really takes a backseat to these other issues.Evaluation: Munroe is an interesting character, and this book definitely has good ¿thriller¿ aspects to it. An additional book featuring Munroe is in the works.
RDHawk6886 on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Wanted to like this book more than I did. The author's bio is better than the book. Destitute cousin to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
gsbarbie on LibraryThing 2 days ago
I highly recommend this fast paced thriller! Ms. Stevens does an excellent job creating an interesting plot with complex characters. I wanted to keep turning the pages to find out what was in store. Be aware that once you start reading this book, you won't want to put it down. It is that good! Planning to read the next books in this series.
damcmanus on LibraryThing 2 days ago
great first book by taylor stevens, races along with a twist.