Taylor Stevens roared onto the scene (and the New York Times Bestseller list) with her debut thriller The Informationist. She's back with her second novel featuring Vanessa Michael Munroe called The Innocent.
Vanessa Michael Munroe is capable of just about anything. She's brilliant, beyond tough and loyal. How does she earn her living? Taking on cases that no one else is capable of seeing through or even wants to attempt. When her close friend Logan comes to her with a request for the seemingly impossible, she can't turn him down. Five year old Hannah was kidnapped by her mother's ex boyfriend almost eight years ago. She has been taken and secreted within The Chosen - a cult. After so long, they finally have word that Hannah might be in one of The Havens in Argentina. Armed with inside knowledge from three adult survivors of The Chosen, Munroe agrees to take the case. For above all else - she will protect the innocent.
Taylor has painted a frightening picture of the inner workings of a cult and the treatment of the children trapped in a situation they didn't choose. The everyday life, the lack of schooling, the begging, the hierarchy, the running, the hiding, the abuse.... And she's not making it up. Author Taylor Stevens is writing what she knows. She grew up in a 'communal apocalyptic cult', finally getting out in her twenties.
Stevens has crafted yet another unputdownable book. Hannah's chapters are alternated with Munroe's. We know what is going on with Hannah and can only will Munroe to get there faster. The ratcheting tension made it really hard to step away.
What made it hard to put down? I loved the character. We learn more about Munroe with each book, but she is still an enigma. It was fantastic to have such a kick a** female protagonist, one who can hold her own in almost any situation. Over the top? Maybe - but a delicious piece of escapist reading. (but still kind of scary, when you realize that the cult descriptions are real.)Think of all those tough guy Jason Statham movie type characters and make them female.
I chose to listen to The Innocent in audio book format. The reader was Hilary Huber. She has a well modulated voice. She conveyed Munroe's voice perfectly, never raising it, but transmitting her purpose and strength by talking even quieter.
Another excellent thriller and number three is in the works - The Doll, due out in 2012.