Title: The Innocent
Author: Taylor Stevens
Release Date: December 27, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5
After the difficult events in Cameroon, Vanessa Michael Munroe hasn’t quite healed emotionally. But when her best friend, Logan, comes to her with a personal request, she can’t do anything but help him. Eight years ago, a girl named Hannah was kidnapped by her mother’s boyfriend and taken to a religious cult called The Chosen. Now, Logan finally has concrete information on the whereabouts of the thirteen-year-old girl and asks Munroe to do everything she can to get Hannah back.
The Innocent is the second novel in Taylor Stevens’ series featuring the unforgettable Vanessa Michael Munroe. Though she was tough-as-nails in The Informationist, Munroe shows her more fragile side at the beginning of this novel. It’s clear she is severely damaged psychologically. The years of killing, taking revenge, and her brutal past have come back to haunt her. Every time she closes her eyes, Munroe is besieged by the worst of nightmares, memories that she can’t escape. She is in no state to help Logan, yet she does so regardless. Once she makes that decision, she puts aside all weakness, though she is still more vulnerable over the course of this book than in the last.
Taylor Stevens was born into a cult, so it’s with her insider knowledge that she wrote The Chosen. On the surface, they seem harmless, but Stevens takes the reader into the chilling heart of the organization. Pacts with gangs, child molestation, begging for money – it’s not pleasant, and the reader aches for Hannah as she is forced to face these difficult aspects of cult life. As a result, the reader really roots for Munroe to save Hannah from this horrible, hopeless existence.
Like The Informationist, The Innocent is jam-packed and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The tale is tightly woven and suspenseful; however, I appreciate how Stevens balances between the action and the thought. Instead of Munroe going in with guns blazing, as would usually happen in a thriller, she is careful. She does her research, and it’s painstaking. Only when she is sure does she act because she wants to minimize collateral damage. I appreciate that Stevens took this care in the story, as it makes it much more realistic and also gives the reader real insight into Munroe’s unique skills.
I have really fallen for the character of Vanessa Michael Munroe, and I appreciate that Stevens showed us a different, but not unbelievable, side of her in The Innocent. Her character has been developed very well, and I look forward to seeing where Stevens sends her next. This is a unique, well-written series that is quickly becoming one of my favorites currently being written.