Saturday, 22 August 2015

There is always one

Vanessa Michael Munroe, chameleon and information hunter, has a reputation for getting things done - often dangerous and not quite legal things.

With blood on her hands and a soul stained with guilt, Munroe has fled to Djibouti, Africa.  There, with no responsibility except a gig at a small maritime security company, Munroe finds stillness - until she's pressured to work as an armed guard on a ship bound for Kenya.  On board, Munroe discovers the contract is merely cover for gunrunning; when the ship is invaded off the Somali coast, she fights her way out - dragging the unconscious captain with her.

But nothing about the hijacking is what it seems.  The pirates had come for the captain, and continuing their pursuit they unwittingly raise the killer's instinct Munroe had tried so hard to bury.  Wounded and on the run, Vanessa Michael Munroe will use the life of her catch as bait and bartering chip to manipulate every player, and wash her conscience clean.

I am coming to this series rather late, ie starting with this novel.  I think I am seriously missing something here having not read the previous books in the series as we are never told what this woman is doing with this band of mercenaries for hire.  Looking though the books I have to review I found that I already had book 3 in the series and nearly stopped to read that first but decided to carry on regardless!

Although there is a lot of action in this book, the reader does have to wade their way through very very slow sections however; this reader was interested or rather invested, at this stage, enough to read through this.  I just wanted to know what happened next.  If you do manage to hang on in there you are treated to a rather majestic story of a woman with many hidden talents, the least of which is her ability to learn a new language just by hearing it spoken.  It is not a thrill a minute and the action sequences through few and far between are reasonably believable.

I thought that the first part of the book was extremely slow but when Michael hit her stride the novel progressed at a reasonable pace although it was not action packed.  There seems to be more character development rather than action.  I don’t know why that would mean that one was sacrificed over the other but this author decided to do that.

The majority of the other characters in this novel are rather unlikeable and to be honest, I am not sure I would have gone to the lengths that Michael did to try and rescue them.  Or did she do it to have a favour in hand for later one?  Your guess is as good as mine.

I do not know much about North African continent (apart from Egypt) and so much of the detail was lost on me.  Perhaps a book at the front of the book would have helped.  The minutia of the detail to which the author went into about this area and the wheelings and dealings passed this reader by – was that all really necessary and it did stall what action there eventually was.

To be honest I am not altogether sure why the character is called 'Michael' but I am pretty sure that this has been explained in previous novels, and bearing in mind where she travels it has its advantages.  Even though she is injured throughout most of the novel she still managed to be a kick-a** female.  Although the major feel of the book is quite depressing, as if she is just going through the motions rather than enjoying the ride.  This may have something to do with what happened in the previous novel.

Although this can be read as a stand-alone book, the reader is left with a lot of questions that I am sure have previously been answered.  Such as why is 'Michael' like she is (see book 1 - the Informationist) and why is she in this situation in the first place.

However, if you like gritty, slightly sociopathic, intelligent, androgynous main characters and a well plotted, verbose thriller, then this may well be the book for you, especially if you have read the previous novels in the series.

Full disclosure:I received a free copy from Netgalley and the publishers in return for an honest review.

I rated this 3 stars on Netgalley and 'It was OK' on Amazon (3 stars) and Goodreads (2 stars).