In the past decade, the Friends of the Mansfield Library have chosen Westerns, biographies, trivia, pets and Texas football for Mansfield Reads! This year, they went for a thriller.
The annual event, which asks the community to all read the same book, will feature “The Informationist” by Taylor Stevens, the first in a series about special investigator Vanessa Michael Munroe.
“We are always looking for something we haven’t done before,” said Paula Highfill, acting treasurer for the Friends. “It’s a page turner with murder and mayhem. Once you get into it, you want to stay awake all night and finish it. It has a very fiesty female protagonist. It’s not really scary, just keeps you wondering what is going to happen next.”
The novel follows Munroe as she tries to track down the daughter of a Texas billionaire in modern-day Africa.
“It’s a real thriller, fast-paced, changing characters and scenarios,” said Jenny Elliott, Friends vice president and chairperson of Mansfield Reads! “She navigates all these different cultures. She knows who to show papers to and when to hide her passport.”
Highfill and Elliott had read the novel, but still hesitated to choose it for Mansfield Reads!
“When we first considered doing a thriller, we were afraid we might get some backlash,” Highfill said. “It’s not really about murder. Once several of us read it, it wasn’t a hard sell.”
The 11th annual Mansfield Reads! will feature “An Evening with the Author” at 6 p.m. May 2 with an interview with Stevens, question and answer session, book signing, appetizers and desserts from Savvy’s Bistro and book sale. The event is free, but seating is limited and reservations are required. Go to friendsofmansfieldlibrary.org to secure a reservation by April 25.
The author’s life story is almost as interesting as her books.
“She was born in New York and raised in a cult, the Children of God,” Highfill said. “She ran away from it. She was denied an education beyond the sixth grade. (In the cult), the children were expected to provide for the cult. She was expected to beg on street corners. She traveled all over the world with her parents and the cult.”
The author now lives in North Dallas; this is her first book, but not her last. Her fourth book in the series will be released in July.