Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The Water Rat of Wanchai by Ian Hamilton

First Line: When the phone rang, Ava woke with a start.

Ava Lee works for a mysterious businessman she calls "Uncle." Uncle's business is tracking down large sums of money that have disappeared, and he relies on Ava because she's very, very good at what she does. As a forensic accountant, she can track down money anywhere and get it back, usually without violence (which is something she's almost got Uncle trained not to resort to).

This time, one of Uncle's friends has requested help for his nephew, who needs to recover five million dollars from a business deal that went sideways. Ava steps in and finds herself on a journey from Seattle to Hong Kong to Bangkok to Guyana and the British Virgin Islands. In Guyana, she might have met her match: Captain Robbins controls the police, the politicians, and the criminals-- and he's decided that he wants the lion's share of Ava's five million dollars.

Over the past few years, I've kept hearing rave reviews about this series from a very trusted source, and I finally decided that now was the time to sample Ian Hamilton's wares. Shall I just say that I'll be back for seconds, thirds, fourths, and more? I've always been a fan of heist books and films, especially when the loot is being stolen from despicable algae masquerading as human beings. That's exactly what Ava does here, and not only from the original thief, but also from Captain Robbins who has an idea that Ava Lee is really good at what she does, but he still thinks he can keep the upper hand on this pretty little lady.

Besides being a top forensic accountant, Ava Lee is also a martial arts expert. Do not mess with her. She's super-intelligent, she's cool, she's unattainable, and if she needs to, she will take you out. What I liked about her is that she usually took people out without using violence. When television and movies began showing women being able to win knock-down drag-out fights with men, I was happy and did a little bit of cheering, but those fight scenes get really old, really quick. Don't get me wrong, I do like a good fight now and then, but I prefer intelligence over physical strength. Ava does, too. The only thing that I didn't care for is the fact that every man who met Ava started drooling and wanting her to go out with him. Show some self-respect, guys! (Besides, you're drooling up the wrong tree; Ava is gay.)

Hamilton's story is fast-paced, with unexpected flashes of humor, and plenty of tension and suspense. An added bonus that I loved was the fact that Ava Lee is an excellent tour guide. I felt as though I were in each of those countries with her, and I was just as happy to leave Guyana as she was. Yes indeed-- character, story, setting... they all make this a book to savor. Now I'm going to begin savoring the rest of the series!

The Water Rat of Wanchai by Ian Hamilton
APA The Deadly Touch of the Tigress
ISBN: 9781250032270
Picador Books © 2014
Paperback, 400 pages

Private Investigator, #1 Ava Lee mystery
Rating: A+
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.



  1. Sounds really good. I can do without the drooling men, but male writers always show their hands when writing about women. Something gives them away.

    Despite that, the book sounds worth reading. I'll give it a try.

  2. I"m so glad you enjoyed this one as well as you did, Cathy. Ava Lee is a great character, isn't she? And I like the way Hamilton depicts the different places she goes. I'll be interested in what you think of the series as it goes on.

    1. I'm looking forward to finding that out myself! LOL


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