I didn’t remember ordering a hardcover book, but as I pulled it out of the envelope, that’s exactly what it was. It was a quick glance before recognizing the distinctive cover art of the fiction of Dallas author Taylor Stevens. She had sent along a gift – an older story of hers just finding its way into hardcopy.

Her own story is about as intriguing as the suspense stories she weaves in a couple of different character-driven series, and as I opened the front cover, I was hoping she had signed it.

And there it was.

Ms Stevens was raised in a religious group – some might describe it as a cult – where her duties at a tender age involved begging for money on street corners. The group moved around the world over the years and many of the exotic locations of her youth have been incorporated into the settings of her stories.

You wouldn’t know it by reading her pages, but her writing comes from a self-polished talent. It is hard to imagine being isolated from the media, social interactions, and current events as she was growing up – much less overcoming those blinders-on-the-world to produce relevant works of fiction. She does it well.

The main body of her work involves a female protagonist named Vanessa Michael Munroe, who is succinctly described on the back of the just-received dust jacket: Think Catwoman in plain clothes, Lisbeth Salander sans dragon tattoo. Jack Reacher with an extra x-chromosome. [She] has to be among the cleverest, fightingest, and all-around baddest heroines in contemporary suspense fiction.

The first book in the series has been optioned for film, and I believe James Cameron of Titanic and Avatar movies fame is the interested producer/director.

THE VESSEL is a novella involving the protagonist, that somehow failed to be immediately released in hardcover. It is a nice addition to Ms Stevens’ bibliography, and it just proves that some good things have come to some people during this most consternating of years.

If you haven’t tried her yet, grab a copy of THE INFORMATIONIST and settle in for a page-turning ride that will have you wanting more.