Taylor Stevens. I would compare the latest book in the Vanessa Michael Munroe series, The Doll, to watching an episode of Scandal. What do I mean by that? If I'm ever going to like Scandal I have to watch all the episodes or in this case read all the books from the beginning to really get what is going on. I know something really thrilling is happening and I kept reading until the end, but I need to go back to the beginning to truly understand these characters.
Taylor Stevens gets straight to the action in The Doll. Vanessa Michael Munroe has a particular knack for hunting down people. She can understand and speak various languages. And...she can kill you without a weapon. I liken her to a female Jason Bourne with a little Macgyver mixed in. No matter the amount of danger, Munroe is always looking for ways to outsmart or overpower her opponent. A person with skills like that is extremely valuable. The Doll Maker, who makes his living in human sex trafficking, is in dire need of Munroe's skills. But there's no way she would come willing for a man like him. The only way to snare Munroe in his elaborate scheme is to kidnap her. But Miles Bradford, her lover, and the rest of the team at the Capstone Security Consulting firm are determined to find Munroe.
I was engrossed in the story, but I felt like I was missing something. Once again I have to reference Scandal, a show that I've seen two episodes of. The show is very fast-paced and while I was interested in the episodes, I felt like I was missing something. In The Doll, the characters have quirks, language, and relationships that I don't quite understand. The central plot was very sinister and strange at the same time. The Doll Maker forces Munroe to transport Neeva Eckridge, a missing Hollywood starlet, to a very demanding client. If she doesn't, Logan, someone very dear to Munroe's heart, will die. Munroe knows that this assignment is morally wrong, but another life is at stake. Sound creepy? It is.
Neeva isn't exactly a willing participant. Neeva's captors have done everything under the sun to break her spirit. Starvation, sexual and emotional humiliation, and physical abuse have pushed Neeva to her wits end. But there is still a little fire in her, a flame that not even Munroe can put out quickly. This trip to Neeva's next tormentor is no easy feat for Munroe. Any little bit of kindness on Munroe's part is challenged by Neeva. It's hard for Neeva to believe that Munroe isn't her enemy. I think these were some of the best scenes in the book. Both women can to see another side of the other person. Munroe can totally understand how Neeva feels, but she can't fail at this assignment. The Doll Maker has already demonstrated his power over Munroe.
There are two other books in the series, and I definitely have to read them. I don't really get why Munroe is the way she is. I think my experience with this book would have been different if I had read the previous books. Overall, it was an exciting, dark, and gritty thriller.
Rating: Give it a try
Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Random House) at the request of Wunderkind PR