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Taylor Stevens – The Informationist

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The kick-arse chick takes on the bad guys, but it’s a lot more complicated than it has ever seemed.

Publisher: Broadway (Random House)
Pages: 307
Type: Fiction
Age: Adult
ISBN: 978-0-307-71710-8
First Published: 2011
Date Reviewed: 9th December 2011
Rating: 4/5

Richard Burbank’s daughter is missing and for years he’s had people looking for her unsuccessfully. His employee Miles suggests they seek the services of Munroe, a woman Miles knows will be able to find the girl. Munroe thinks differently to others and has extensive knowledge they lack. In order to find Emily, Munroe must confront her past, as well as work out why Emily’s disappearance is so mysterious.

The Informationist is a book that for a long time appears to be very average before turning on you and showing you what it’s really made of. Indeed the climax is drawn out at several chapters long. The average nature of the majority of the book doesn’t just conceal its ending (and whether or not the reason for the character’s search is predictable or not matters not one bit) but it hides all the extra twists, plot points, and mysteries that Stevens will employ just when you think you’ve worked it all out.

Stevens doesn’t stray from portraying some gruesome situations, and while the book may first come across as a standard kick-arse chick story, the situations in it make it very much a book for adults.

Stevens’s main character, who for the sake of this review will be called Munroe, is an androgynous undercover woman trained to win and to kill. She is constantly strong throughout for reasons Stevens details well. Even when the plot changes track for a short while and allows us to see that Munroe hasn’t been quite as successful in putting away emotions as she would claim (though this is hinted from the start) she doesn’t let the present run away with her and remembers her goal.

It’s difficult to talk about the other characters without spoiling the story a little, but suffice to say that there comes a point when Munroe isn’t working alone and it’s an exciting read, despite the fact that Munroe thinks she’s better working alone. And the author never promises anything – you never know if there will be a happy ending or if things will resolve.

That Stevens has knowledge of her chosen settings – in the main Africa – is apparent. And while the book may be about getting away from the continent she provides the balance and includes positive views when she can. That the book centres on people who live there, most of them happily enough, makes up for most of the negativity that the pages needed to present for its story to work.

There are some things that could have been done better, for example sometimes the way the characters reach an understanding of what has happened isn’t explained very well and it can be confusing as to why they’ve chosen to take a particular “route”. And there are one or two occasions where things simply don’t add up, like telling someone the air-con, if turned on, will make too much noise and draw attention, and then that person going and doing something that would make a lot more noise than the air-con.

The negatives are there but it’s not hard to say that this book is worth a read. Anyone looking for something that will surprise, shock, educate, and leave them panting for breath by the end should most certainly look it up.

I received this book for review from Crown Publishers, Random House.

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