The Informationist By: Taylor Stevens


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'Informationist' lives up to Stieg Larsson comparisons

It was bound to happen. 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.

In fact, she's an original and freshly imagined character. Known for her ability to ferret out the most hidden secrets and information, Munroe has been paid by governments and corporations to get to the truth.

In The Informationist, Munroe is hired by a wealthy tycoon to find his daughter Emily who disappeared in Africa years before. For Munroe, traveling to Equatorial Guinea means a return to the land of her childhood and to the memories that remind her of the roots of her damaged psyche.

Accompanied on her search by security expert Miles Bradford, an employee of the Houston oilman who has hired her, Munroe's intrepid journey into a lawless Africa pits her against government corruption, a former lover and secrets from her past.

Stevens has an aptitude for breathless action scenes. Munroe cunningly survives multiple physical attacks thanks to her guts, determination and a hunger for retaliation and revenge. The novel's cinematic pace is revved by high-speed chases (Munroe, like Salander, rides a crazy fast motorbike), bloody hand-to-hand combat and lots of sexual tension.

The international scope of The Informationist— the action blasts from the USA to Europe to Africa — will more than satisfy fans of Robert Ludlum, John LeCarre and Frederick Forsyth.

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

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