From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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. Nine years have passed since Munroe, the daughter of American missionaries, escaped Cameroon at age 15 after a violent incident. She's forged a new life in Texas as an "informationist," a person who specializes in gathering information about developing countries for corporations. Munroe's best friend, marketing consultant Kate Breeden, refers her to Miles Bradford, a high-stakes security pro, who believes she's the perfect choice to help Houston oilman Richard Burbank find his adopted daughter, Emily, who vanished four years earlier at age 18 while vacationing in west central Africa. Munroe returns to Africa, where she reconnects with her ex-boyfriend, Francisco Beyard, a sexy drug- and gun-running businessman, who assists in the dangerous search for Emily. Thriller fans will eagerly await the sequel to this high-octane page-turner. (Mar.)
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This intriguing novel�s first chapters summon memories of the sort of cases Robert Parker�s Spenser had a habit of taking. A gazillionaire�s daughter vanished in Africa years ago. The gazillionaire has paid fortunes to PIs with no returns, hence his interest in �information specialist� Vanessa Munroe, a gumshoe for the twenty-first century. She can�t resist the mystery or the paycheck, and the first third here is a riveting procedural about how an informationist does business. Then she�s kidnapped and held captive on a boat in Equatorial Guinea, and suddenly we�re in an adventure tale. Vanessa spends another chunk of the narrative wondering whether she�ll survive and will this make sense. So do we, and yes to both questions. The maneuvers at the end are dazzling, worthy of patience with the puzzling middle, and a tad reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes� matter of the Copper Beeches. Monroe is a model of an emerging action heroine: like Stieg Larsson�s Lisbeth Salander, not a guy in a girl suit but not one to whimper in the corner, either. --Don Crinklaw