Stevens sends the gritty, tough, and very deadly Vanessa Michael Munroe to Japan, where she settles a score, piling up bodies in the process.
Munroe’s in love, but that doesn’t mean she’s grown soft. Her specialties—the ability to pass as either a man or a woman; superior fighting skills; an instinctual ability to curate information; almost mythic language abilities—come in handy when her lover, Miles Bradford, is jailed on a bogus charge of murder. Not one to simply hire a lawyer and walk away in a country where the accused have few rights, Munroe works her way deep into the Japanese company that hired Bradford as a security consultant to uncover the motive and mastermind of the setup. Bradford’s arrest sets the stage for Munroe to unleash her masculine side and return to the company on the pretense of finishing the job, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s picked up fluent Japanese during her short time there. Stevens (The Catch, 2014, etc.) puts her own unorthodox upbringing as part of an international cult to good use as she once again explores a side of society that few see. Some previous Munroe novels have played out against the backdrop of less affluent countries in both Africa and South America, where the protagonist’s no-holds-barred style of fighting sometimes goes unnoticed; by setting this story in a cutting-edge company in a highly developed country, Stevens presents new challenges for her lethal yet deeply troubled and larger-than-life heroine. Although slow to evolve, the action eventually revs up and the storyline grows more interesting as Munroe closes in on the real killer. Though the author eventually addresses this issue, it still takes a healthy suspension of disbelief to buy into the idea that a corporation worried about industrial espionage would allow another of Bradford’s associates to take his place after his arrest.
Although Stevens takes longer to develop the action than usual, any Munroe is better than none at all.