Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Water Rat of Wanchai: Ian Hamilton

Ava Lee is a forensic accountant and this story finds her working for a family friend, usually referred to as Uncle. Together they track down large sums of money for their clients. In The Water Rat of Wanchai, Uncle has contracted with the nephew of an old friend to recover five million dollars that has gone missing after he provided financing for a seafood company's operations.


Goodreads currently has a very detailed overview for the Ava Lee series. From that overview:
Methodical. Resourceful. Courageous. Determined. Strong. Confident. 
Ava Lee is a young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who specializes in recovering massive debts that aren’t likely to be recovered through traditional methods. 
In the first book of the Ava Lee series, The Water Rate of Wanchai, her character takes shape through learning about her traditional Chinese upbringing, her family dynamic and the people that are most important to Ava.
I am always surprised when a male author does a good (and thorough) job with clothing. Here Ava meets the sister of the new client at a dim sum restaurant in Toronto:
She was tall for a Chinese woman, and made taller still by stiletto heels that looked as if they were made from the finest, most supple red leather. The silk blouse was worn with a pair of black linen slacks and a gold belt with the Chanel logo on the buckle. Her eyebrows were plucked into two thin lines and her face was caked with makeup. And even from a distance Ava could see the jewellery: enormous diamond stud earrings, two rings — one looked like a three-carat diamond, the other was carved green jade surrounded by rubies — and a crucifix encrusted with diamonds and emeralds. The only thing that marred the picture of a perfect Hong Kong princess was her hair, which was pulled back and secured demurely at the nape of her neck with a plain black elastic. 
Ava stood and waved in her direction. The woman’s eyes settled on her, and in them Ava read — what? Disappointment? Recognition? Maybe she hadn’t been expecting a woman. Maybe she hadn’t been expecting one dressed in a black Giordano T-shirt and Adidas track pants.
I haven't said a lot about the story. It is complex, and tracking the missing money takes Ava to many different countries. She spends time in Hong Kong, Thailand, Guyana, and British Virgin Islands. Each place that she spends any significant amount of time in is described in great detail. In this book, Guyana is depicted as an incredibly unattractive place to visit or live. I hardly knew its location, let alone the living conditions in the country. (I am incredibly lacking in knowledge of geography, but eager to learn more.)

Petite Ava Lee is the last woman one would expect to be able to "kick ass" but looks are deceiving. She has training in the martial arts, and can take care of herself. I love a strong female character; Ava Lee is capable and intelligent. I found the history of the large Chinese population in Toronto especially interesting; also the comparison of Ava's role within her family vs. the dynamics of her job.

As far as the plot, the story was a bit over the top but it engaged me so much I will be coming back for more. Action-packed and fast-paced.

This is my first book for the 12th Annual Canadian Book Challenge.

See other reviews at Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan and Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...


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Publisher:   Picador, 2015 (orig. publ. 2011)
Length:       390 pages
Format:      Trade paperback
Series:       Ava Lee #1
Setting:      Toronto, Canada
Genre:       Thriller
Source:      Purchased at the Planned Parenthood book sale, 2018.


10 comments:

  1. I have one of his books somewhere which I'll get to some day (hopefully).

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    1. Based on this one, I think you will like it, Col.

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  2. Thanks, Tracy, for the kind link. I'm glad you enjoyed this story, even though I agree it's a bit 'over the top.' I have to say I like the Ava Lee character. She's unique, but still, in her way, accessible, if that makes sense.

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    1. I have been wanting to read this one for a long time, Margot, and finally found a copy. And it was worth the wait.

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  3. I really like this series and have gotten just about all of them from my wonderful public library. I'm hoping for some new Ava Lee adventures from Ian Hamilton.

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    1. I did not realize that there were so many in the series, Howard, and I am looking forward to continuing the series.

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  4. TracyK: I thought it was a good book as well. Hamilton is excellent at driving the narrative.

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    1. That is a good description, Bill. I was engaged throughout. And I liked learning about Ava Lee's family along the way.

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  5. Well with those clothes mentions I am going to have to read this one!

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    1. Well, for sure it would not be a waste of your time, Moira. The book wasn't exactly what I expected, and I enjoyed it a lot.

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