The Informationist : Vanessa Munroe

  • by Taylor Stevens
  • Narrated by Hillary Huber
  • Series: Vanessa Munroe
  • 12 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information - expensive information - working for corporations, heads of state, private clients, and anyone else who can pay for her unique brand of expertise. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gunrunner and his mercenary crew when she was just fourteen. As his protégé, she earned the respect of the jungle's most dangerous men, cultivating her own reputation for years until something sent her running. After almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career from her home base in Dallas, she's never looked back.
Until now.
A Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his daughter who vanished in Africa four years ago. It’s not her usual line of work, but she can’t resist the challenge. Pulled deep into the mystery of the missing girl, Munroe finds herself back in the lands of her childhood, betrayed, cut off from civilization, and left for dead. If she has any hope of escaping the jungle and the demons that drive her, she must come face-to-face with the past that she’s tried for so long to forget.
Gripping, ingenious, and impeccably paced, The Informationist marks the arrival or a thrilling new talent.


Audible Editor Reviews

This strikingly solid debut from Taylor Stevens is already earning some remarkably weighty comparisons, most notably to Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne trilogy and Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander series. The first in a plan for at least three books, The Informationist introduces us to Vanessa Michael Munroe. Munroe is certainly the love child of Bourne and Salander, a fierce fighting machine with a gift for technology and an ability to blend into any environment. But she also has a unique feature that most thriller protagonists can’t touch: Munroe’s past is based heavily on Stevens’ own history. Born into the controversial Children of God cult, Stevens travelled the world under conditions of harsh discipline and intense violence. Ultimately fleeing the commune but never quite able to escape the demons it awakened within her, the author endows her hero with a considerably more believable inner monologue than many similarly hardened good guys whose authors do not have the benefit of any ordeals relevant to their characters.
As Munroe runs all over central Africa trying to put down the terrifying reminders of her childhood in the region and pick up the cold trail of a missing girl, listeners encounter a dozen different local accents and several assorted languages, from German and French to Fang and Portuguese. Thankfully, Audie Award-winner and veteran narrator Hillary Huber is there to guide us through it. Her tough and sexy natural voice is a perfect fit for Munroe, and Huber’s deftly diligent rendering of each accent is an absolute delight to the ear. This international flavor is crucial to the ambience and pace of the story, and any lesser narrator would have taken all the life out of it. Though Stevens incorporates many traditional characters like the possibly nefarious Texan billionaire, the macho sidekick who can’t really keep up, and the rugged jungle gun-runner, The Informationist is brimming with fresh perspective and depth thanks to the one-two punch of Stevens’ wealth of personal experience and Huber’s professional savvy. —Megan Volpert


What the Critics Say

“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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Strong premise & character descend into melodrama

The book sets a great atmosphere and the protagonist is initially captivating. The narrator does a good job and the book despite it's flaws is entertaining until it becomes laughable in the end. A fitting description might be Terminator melts into Romancing the Stone.

The flaws:
The book repeatedly pulls it's punches. The lead is always "about" to get violent, but keeps warning people not to mess with her instead. The action takes a nose-dive while the protagonists wrestles with school-girlish issues of love. All but one of the potential villains have less than a page of character development in the entire book making them irrelevant to the reader. Despite the title, it is never demonstrated that the main character has any particular ability to obtain or analyze information. Her only ability in this regard seems to be that she grew up in Africa and knows the lingo. To add insult to injury the character to be rescued becomes an unimportant afterthought and the main character decides that embarrassment might be punishment enough for the people who tried to kill her and her friends.

The bottom line is that the author set out to create a Lisbeth Salander like character with no idea of what motivates such a character and little idea of what the genre expects. The extreme weakness of the protagonist at the end (i.e. indecisive, illogical, passive, and naive) would make Jack Bauer and Mitch Rapp hurl. And back to pulling punches, the author blends three different endings together instead of choosing a solid one. It's akin to "It's okay that I let my son's killer go free, because he died in a car accident a few weeks later."
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- John C. "Born with earbuds."

What information?

The main character is an Angelina Jolie, kick-butt, type, which is okay but the whole thing came off as forced. Trying too hard. A different narrator may have made the story better but even the story itself didn't hold water for me. The romance between the main character and her mentor falls flat, the terrible accent of the narrator plus the monotone she uses made this hard to finish. By the end, I didn't care what happened to the person they were searching for.
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- Elizabeth

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-08-2011
  • Publisher: Random House Audio