Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Julie's Review: The Innocent

Summary: With The Innocent, Taylor Stevens, the bestselling author of The Informationist, returns with another blockbuster thriller featuring the fearless Vanessa Michael Munroe. Eight years ago, a man walked five-year-old Hannah out the front doors of her school and spirited her over the Mexican border, taking her into the world of a cult known as The Chosen. For eight years, followers of The Prophet have hidden the child, moving her from country to country, shielding the man who stole her. Now, those who’ve searched the longest know where to find her. They are childhood survivors of The Chosen, thirty-somethings born and raised inside the cult who’ve managed to make lives for themselves on the outside. They understand the mindset, the culture within that world, and turn to Vanessa Michael Munroe for help, knowing that the only possibility of stealing Hannah back and getting her safely out of Argentina is to trust someone who doesn’t trust them, and get Munroe on the inside. Tautly written, brilliantly paced, and with the same evocation of the exotic combined with chilling violence that made The Informationist such a success, The Innocent confirms Taylor Stevens’ reputation as a thriller writer of the first rank.

Review: The Informationist blew me out of the water when I read it earlier this year and when Ms. Stevens said there was another Munroe book coming; I immediately put it on my list of things to look forward to late in 2011. So, I was thrilled when I received an ARC of The Innocent. The plot was intriguing and while Munroe isn't a ticking time bomb, she definitely has a loose cannon feel to her.

The second novel is more personal than the first because the case is personal. While it might not be about Munroe directly, it does involve someone she cares deeply for perhaps making her take unnecessary risks. From my view point, The Innocent isn't as fast-paced as The Informationist but this isn't a bad thing. It's still action-packed but this time we get a bit deeper into her psyche than previously. Munroe has horrid nightmares. These are so bad for her that she medicates herself to pass out in the hopes that they won't come. The case involves taking a young girl out of a religious sect and bringing her back to her parents that she was stolen from at a young age. This involves a little bit of research and spy-maneuvering to gain access to a group that is typically paranoid. That is unless of course you come flashing some money.

What I love about Munroe is that she is who she is. Is she violent? Yes. Is she cold-hearted? No. Can she be ruthless? Sure, that was what she was trained for. While most of the people that are close to her accept her for what she does and who she is, she doesn't accept herself. She carries around a tremendous amount of guilt for her actions. We definitely learn more about Munroe in this novel but I don't even think we've fully tapped the well of her yet.

I know a lot of comparisons have been made between Munroe and Lisbeth Salander and while there are similarities, they are vastly different as well. I won't go into a dissertation here about it though. I will say that I do love the recent "kick-ass" women that are being written in fiction.

If you haven't discovered Munroe or Ms. Stevens, then I highly suggest for your New Year's Eve reading that you go and buy both The Informationist and The Innocent; they are better than some action movies out there now. I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment of Munroe!

The Innocent will be released on 12/27/2011 by Crown Publishing.

Final Take: 4.5/5


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