Title: The Informationist
Author: Taylor Stevens
Release Date: March 8, 2011
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Vanessa Michael Munroe (“Michael” to her clients) is an informationist, someone who can find answers to any question. If there is information out there, she’ll find it. While she usually works for corporations, Michael receives an intriguing request from Richard Burbank, the head of an oil company. His stepdaughter went missing in west Africa four years ago, and he wants to make one last desperate effort to find her before he gives her up for dead. But when Burbank makes his request of Michael, he doesn’t realize that what he is asking her to do is confront a past she thought she’d left behind.
When I first heard about The Informationist, all I knew was that the main character was “like Lisbeth Salander,” and I’ll have to admit, this made me wary. I think it does a disservice to a debut novel to compare it to such a phenomenon as the Stieg Larsson series, especially because readers will go in with their own preconceived notions as to what the book will be about. However, I decided to put that aside and go into this book with no expectations, and I’m glad I did. The Informationist is a gripping, riveting thriller/mystery combination that had me at the edge of my seat.
Michael is a very interesting character. I appreciated her talents, but it was her personality I really was intrigued by. I can’t really say whether I liked her as a person or not; she made some difficult decisions and questionable choices, yet at the same time it didn’t matter. This surprised me because usually character appeal is one of my main issues with books, but in this case, Michael just fit the story. It made sense.
I also enjoyed learning about how Michael went about gathering information. She speaks multiple languages, knows how to use weapons, and isn’t opposed to crossdressing if it will help her with her mission. This part of the book was fascinating for me, as it really showed how good Michael is at her job and how far she’ll go to get the information requested of her.
The mystery in The Informationist is complicated, and at times, it seems like nothing makes sense, or will ever make sense. But if readers just go with it, they will realize there is a larger story unfolding. Stevens does a wonderful job tying everything together, making sure everything is clearly explained for the reader by the end of the novel. Even if it seems as though the plot is leading to a place where no explanation will serve, if you have faith and keep reading, you will be rewarded.
The Informationist is set up as the first in a series, which is good news for mystery/thriller fans. Michael is really intriguing, and while her character is well developed in this book, it’s clear that Stevens isn’t giving away everything yet. She’s still a bit of a mystery to the reader, which means there is a lot of territory to explore in future books. I can’t wait for the sequel to The Informationist in order to see where Michael goes next.