Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Catch by Taylor Stevens

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 has 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.

My take: 3 looks
My feelings on this are a bit mixed. The is not the first in a series, but it is the first I have read. With that said, it may be that I am missing important information from the first book, but this one read well enough as a stand-alone.

The story is very fast moving. The premise that a ship has been hijacked by pirates off the coast of Africa is timely, but I got bogged down in the multiple locations, interjection of local language terms, and detail on the various interests and machinations of the various characters. The protagonist, Michael, is an androgynous badass. I say androgynous because no one she comes in contact with can tell she is a woman, unless she is wearing a skirt. Her bone structure, voice, or hair must be a giveaway. However, when it works to her advantage, she must be very feminine.

The other main characters are very shallow and one-dimensional. Leo is Michael's first boss, who double crosses her. Amber Marie is his girl. Adbi is a businessman and money launderer, Victor is a good guy who befriends Michael in the beginning. There are numerous other characters who are just as shallow and poorly drawn as these. For example, why is there so much animosity between Michael and Leo? What on earth is going on with Michael's feelings for Amber? I got the distinct feel of a homoerotic undertone here. Why does Michael feel such an affinity for Victor? Does she really so badly need someone to be nice to her? Is that all she owes him?

On top of the one-dimensional characters, I was extremely put off by the over-the-top bravado. A couple of examples:
  • The rifle discharged beside her ear, deafening, while the young man fought for control and her knife answered with a life of its own, the dormant demons ascending from deep sleep, instinct and speed in the face of death.
  • Her kills her primal, instinct that overrode logic and morality, blood and violence made flesh in the rage-induced defense of herself or another, a visceral reaction from the animal brain of the cut and bleeding girl she'd once been, the animal brain that took control and refused to die.

These are two of the more eye-rolling passages, but the book is laden with them.

While these were two issues that very much limited my enjoyment of the book, it was an easy book to read, and was fast-paced. The storyline was a little convoluted, but the action was compelling. That is what makes me give three looks instead of anything lower.

However, at the end of it all, I was not really sure what the purpose was. Did Michael get what she wanted? Did Abdi get his part of the deal? Was Leo as smarmy as he appeared? Did Amber get out of debt?

But the real question I can answer: Do I really care? Not really.

Thank you to for a copy of this novel for an honest review.

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