This review was originally published in print in Transitions magazine.
If you’re a fan of Michael Westen or the hit show Burn Notice, then this book should be your next purchase. I definitely didn’t mean Michael Weston with an “o”. He’s a real actor. I’m talking about the super spy played by Jeffrey Donovan. If there were ever to be a female version of Westen, you would find her in The Informationist, the inaugural thriller from Taylor Stevens.
The main character is Vanessa Michael Munroe, a problem-solving, butt-kicking, intelligence gathering superwoman who also has her share of problems and difficulties. Like Westen she has her ghosts…a bad upbringing, regret from past deeds, a strong desire to do what’s right, and a reluctance to quit, no matter how bad things are. The only big difference between the two would be that Munroe seems a bit more moody and introspective, a little closer to a female Jason Bourne in that respect.
Though I recommend reading the book on its own merits, you should check out the author as well. A book about her life would read just as interesting. According to her website at http://www.taylorstevensbooks.com, she lived a very abnormal existence, which assisted in the development of this book…
“In an alternate universe, I spent my formative years living with parents and siblings, showing up for school and getting acquainted with HBO, Michael Jackson, neon clothes and big hair. In reality, childhood and adolescence were spent begging on city streets from Zurich to Tokyo, preparing food and washing laundry for hundreds of people, and otherwise trying to survive dreary life as a worker bee child in a communal apocalyptic cult. My innocence and scholastic education stopped completely when I was twelve-years-old.
Cut off from personal family, at times under the care of sadistic individuals and without access to books or television from the outside world, imagination became a survival mechanism. As a young teenager, I secretly entertained commune children with fantastic stories that took us through time and space, until these sins were discovered by cult leaders. Several laboriously hand-written books were confiscated and burned and I was ordered on pain of–well, a whole lot of pain–never to write again.
The nomadic culture of the cult became an adolescent’s journey across four continents and nearly two dozen countries culminating in four years living in East and West-Central Africa–this the primary setting for THE INFORMATIONIST.
Along this journey I have seen the best and worst of humanity and don’t have to look far to find the depth of soul and tormented conflict that drives my characters; I pull heavily from personal experience and the experience of the ones I love when creating the worlds they walk in.
I was in my twenties when I broke free, and leaving everything I knew brought with the fear, a fresh beginning. Refusing to go to my grave with regrets, “what ifs,” or tears over the lost years, I set out to take back what was taken from me. Through trial and error and observing the masters I taught myself the craft, and gradually the gift of storytelling returned. Learning basics that many take for granted has been a journey to be sure, but on the flip side, if I ever need to make breakfast for 150 people, I’ve already got that covered.”
I loved the book and am looking forward to the next installment in the adventures of Ms Munroe. The next title will be called The Innocent and is due in December. Now for the big question I always ask myself when reading a great book…who would play that character in a movie version? I’d love to hear your pick. You can e-mail it to me.