|Click to see in Amazon|
This is a remarkable, exciting but harrowing thriller that is not for the weak at heart. This is the third book by Taylor Stevens featuring Vanessa "Michael" Munroe, a dangerous loner who bears emotional and physical scars from her youth, reminiscent of Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander. Michael's horrific past gives her a potential for ferocity and violence to overcome her enemies. She's a super-intelligent and dangerous character who is skilled in martial arts, and always carries a knife. She has an eidetic memory and speaks multiple languages.
After a period of reasonable contentment with her lover and business associate Miles Bradford, things spiral out of Michael's control. Bradford looks out of the window one day and is powerless when he sees Michael collapse next to her motor cycle and is quickly spirited away in an ambulance. Then follows a nightmare where Michael wakes up in a cell in Croatia under the control of the "The Doll Maker" - a notorious and viscous sex trafficker.
His name stems from an obsession with a huge collection of life-like porcelain dolls, hand-painted and air-brushed, perfectly clothed with waxen hair, curled and styled - each doll in perfect condition. "Perfection, they have no flaws, only beauty. ... they bring me joy."
Paradoxically "The Doll Maker" cashes in on the value of the female body and traffics kidnapped human cargo across the globe to continuing misery as sex slaves. His richest and most important clients ask for the most beautiful and valuable - untouched and doll-like. Michael is forced to transport an extremely valuable girl across Europe and deliver her in pristine condition. The Doll Maker pulls Michael's strings to make her co-operate by capturing and torturing a person who is nearest and dearest to her.
Stevens keeps the suspense high all the way, with constant action, a huge body count, and many kidnappings and violence. It is a roller coaster of a ride that taxes all of Michael's strategic and violent strengths.
I really enjoyed "The Informationist" which introduced us to Michael but was a bit disappointed with "The Innocent" that touched on the kind of extreme religious cult where Taylor Stevens grew up. "The Doll" takes us back to the original Michael who is as deadly as any of the male fictional heroes you will read and also has a really dark side that she has to fight to keep under control.
I highly recommend this book for those who like to read intelligent but violent thrillers.
NOTE: The Amazon link is to the US version. If you live in Australia you may have to search by title as your version may have a different ASIN number.