A billionaire oil company dude wants to hire her to find his stepdaughter, an 18-19 year old when she disappeared on an extended travel through various African countries 4 years ago. Previous detective work produced little. Michael doesn't do missing people, but she is lured in by the mystery and because she needs hazardous, intensive research projects to keep her demons at bay. Also, she has a history with Africa - she was raised there by missionary parents, and left relationships behind very abruptly when she left by herself as a teen. Perhaps, she feels, it's time to go back. The billionaire sends a bodyguard/mercenary along with her, and the sleuthing/informationizing commences. The quest turns very hazardous, layered and complicated in the various parts of Africa. The depictions of the politics, cities, insect/other hazards, cultural aspects, etc. are fascinating and seem very realistic (turns out the author has a similar background to her heroine, hopefully without the damage). I disliked how we finally (but not terribly far into the book) got Michael's backstory in one big infodump once she gets to Africa, after having such pleasing hints of her character's personalty and motivations up to that point. Rather anticlimatic to receive it that way. Still, it's a solid action-adventure suspense novel.
I liked this thriller for the realistic setting (Africa) and the nonstop action more than anything else. It had its flaws. Fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo who enjoyed it for the fierce, damaged heroine, violence, and suspense aspects might enjoy this. Although the mystery plot is not as good, not so suspenseful in the end, and the heroine was rather over the top in her skills. I picked The Informationist up because the reviews were good and I was intrigued that the main character, 20-something Vanessa (aka "Michael") is an "informationist". She immerses herself in countries/places, acquires information from various people and sources through mad people-manipulating skills, incredible intuition, & very unbelievable foreign language abilities (22 languages! Nice). Because she's a genius, she synthesizes the info into terribly useful reports and gets paid lots. Sadly that's about as much info as we get on her methods. She's also a vicious and skilled fighter, and a little crazy. A damaged, sometimes androgynous heroine like Girl with Dragon Tattoo, whose name I forget.