The Doll  - Taylor Stevens, Hillary Huber

The novel starts with Miles Bradford witnessing Vanessa Michael Munroe being kidnapped -- and in a most impressive way. He mobilizes he members of his private security team in town and begin looking for her -- and Logan -- immediately. Miles assumes (correctly) that if the object was to hurt Michael, he and Logan would be the top candidates to join here. If she's being kidnapped to do a job, Logan would be the ideal candidate for a hostage -- as long as someone has him, Michael will do whatever it takes to keep him alive. Ergo, since he knows Michael's out of the country, but he's not sure where, the best thing he can do is to free Logan from whoever took him, eliminating the leverage they have over Michael.


Meanwhile, Michael wakes up somewhere in Europe where she's presented with this simple choice: do a job for this man she recognizes as The Dollmaker -- or he'll have Logan killed (and he threatens to do similar things to others Michael cares about). The job is to deliver a young woman into a life of sex slavery and torture. This particular young woman is a rising movie star who's gone missing -- the surrounding publicity makes her one of the best known faces in the wold. She needs transported over a few European borders without being seen or injured in any way. Doing this will repay a debt to The Dollmaker that Michael incurred in a previous case.


Just typing that makes it sound like Michael's a monster for even considering delivering Neeva -- and she certainly thinks so -- but in the context, Michael can't seem to do anything better (although she does hope that Logan will be rescued, giving her the opportunity to save Neeva). Michael also knows that no matter what happens, she and Logan are dead as soon as the girl is delivered (barring a successful rescue). Most of the book is a compelling race against the clock, followed by Michael's hunt for revenge.


This is the first time that we really get to see Bradford's operation outside of just him -- I'd enjoy a novel or two about he and his team without Michael, I must say. The best parts of this book involve Miles and his team doing their thing.


Huber did a great job, as per usual -- I honestly can't think of anything to say about her work that I haven't said before. Neeva frequently sounded like Anna Faris to me -- which helped solidify the character. There is one thing that I've meant to say since the last book and forgot about until this instance -- there's a playfulness that creeps into Huber's voice as Michael prepares to do something violent. I love that little touch. It says so much about the character (and I hope Stevens agrees with what it says) -- it also speaks volumes about Huber's attention to nuance.


A gripping tale -- with some of my favorite moments in the series -- even if I found some character choices hard to believe/stomach. With plenty of callbacks to earlier books to cement this in Michael's story. Still, another good entry for Stevens, Huber and Munroe.