Taylor Stevens Vanessa Munroe series has been marketed extensively and compared favorably to the Lisbeth Salander series. Both series do share a strong female character, who fights violence and investigates crimes against women, and both Salander and Munroe do not fit established images of how women are to behave. The Munroe series also takes on tough world situations.
Vanessa Munroe, dressing like a man, and sometimes mistaken for a man, is a trained killer and experienced in the various ways that men try to take advantage of women. From the first book in this series, The Informationist http://www.amazon.com/The-Informationist-Vanessa-Michael-Munroe/dp/0307717100/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372606072&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=infomrationist, which dealt with rape and revenge, Stevens has put Munroe in difficult situations. Munroe has triumphed, but each book leaves scars on the character and the reader. Her latest book, “The Doll” http://www.amazon.com/The-Doll-Vanessa-Michael-ebook/dp/B00ALBR62S/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1 the third in the series, is again a taut, tough look at another world situation that is evil – the kidnapping of young girls for the sex slave trade. No reader will come away from this book unscathed about her descriptions of how women are treated and marketed as cattle to be sold to the highest bidder.
Munroe is kidnapped from her adopted home in the US and whisked away to a foreign country. The Doll Man, a notorious leader of an underground sex slave ring has a job for her to do. He wants her to deliver Neeva Eckridge, a kidnapped beautiful world renowned Hollywood starlet, to her buyer, who has picked her out and wants to possess her for aims that become clear as the book goes on. Normally Munroe would not stand for this type of assignment and is clearly able to kill the Doll Man, but the Doll Man, has been supplied information from a criminal that Munroe locked up in jail in a prior book in the series, and has also kidnapped a friend. the Doll Man is torturing Munroe’s friend and will kill him if Munroe does not do what he wants.
So Munroe decides to help the Doll Man transport Neeva to her buyer, while hoping that her friend Bradford can successfully find her friend and rescue him before Munroe has finished her delivery job. Shadowed by the Doll Man’s nephew and highly trained killer, bugged and followed, Munroe and Neeva must travel across Europe to the waiting buyer.
The book is split between Bradford’s hunt for the missing friend and Munroe’s journey with Neeva. The tension is high. Munroe is acting against her nature to help a monster. The character of Neeva is very well defined, and is no soft starlet. She is equally tough and fights to survive as well. There is plenty of action and suspense.
What mars the book, in my mind, and what seems to be inevitable is the second half of the book, when as we can expect Munroe confronts the Doll Man and his men. Characters make decisions that do not make realistic sense. Maybe they heightened the plot and the tension, but they did not ring true.
Nonetheless, the book does deliver a healthy does of tension, action and is a an all around very good thriller. Stevens again exposes the underbelly of the world though the Munroe series. There is evil in the world and depravity and Munroe is a good character to have to fight it.
This is a good series if you like unconventional thrillers that do not involve terrorism or world destruction.