Vanessa Michael Munroe is an informationist.
That term is a relatively new one indicating a person who specializes in providing "research and knowledge management services" and it is one that fits Munroe perfectly. Possessing a lithesome, athletic body described as androgynous, she couples that with sharply honed skill at assuming roles, both female and male, that let her blend in wherever she needs to go. Add to that a superb natural gift with picking up languages easily and remarkably quickly, and she can and does have people thinking she is as much a fixture of her current environment as they are.
If a government agency wants to know the real story of what is happening in a remote region, and not just what the official line is, they can call on her. If a corporation thinking of investing in a foreign enterprise wants to know who to contact and who not to and where the traps and pitfalls are hiding, they contact her. She does not just look things up on the Internet. She goes there, learns the local dialect, assumes a persona, and truly absorbs the facts. Her reports are taken as gospel.
Going into strange lands alone, especially when her job requires her to ask questions of those who might not be quite so open, is a very dangerous activity. Whether she is taking the role of a handsome, albeit smallish man or a beautiful and desirable woman or someone so nondescript as to be virtually invisible, she often comes up against those who either dislike her intrusion or just like the idea of preying on someone alone. Being able to take care of yourself is a skill that is essential to survival. It is a talent Munroe has in abundance and it comes from a time when she was forced, at gun and knife point, to learn.
Born in west Africa to American missionaries who had already finished their child rearing and were not expecting a late addition, she grew up playing in the dirt streets of several different countries, learning quickly how to become a native and to fit in even if her origins were different and her skin color not the same. Because she could grasp the speech patterns and the nuances so easily as well as being a very good listener who seldom forgot anything, she got a reputation as being a tad on the supernatural.
She also got a reputation, well earned, as being a rapscallion and rebel. With her parents' interests totally on things other than her and no one to set boundaries, she became a free spirit and did as she pleased. That included falling in as a young teenager with grownups whose activities were less than strictly legal. Her information gathering skills made her invaluable to them so she quickly became a part of them.
That brought her to the attention of a particularly nasty member of the group who daily would teach her the finer details of hand-to-hand combat while molesting her in the evenings, threatening to kill her and her family in very unpleasant ways. Ironically, these same fighting skills she was forced to learn would be useful in eventually ending his existence.
The types of adventures Munroe has are varied and consistently dangerous but regardless of where she is or what she is doing, Munroe is fascinating to watch.