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The Water Rat of Wanchai (Ava Lee #1)

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  1,504 Ratings  ·  265 Reviews
Ava Lee is a young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who works for an elderly Hong Kong–based “Uncle,” who may or may not have ties to the Triads. At 115 lbs., she hardly seems a threat. But her razorsharp intellect and resourcefulness allows her to succeed where traditional methods have failed.

In The Water Rat of Wanchai, Ava travels across continents to track $5 milli
Paperback, 412 pages
Published February 19th 2011 by Spiderline (first published 2011)
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Joey Comeau
May 16, 2012 Joey Comeau rated it really liked it
So, here's the thing. This book is fun, but you have to be willing to ignore a couple annoying quirks. The first, which others have mentioned, is the fact that every single time the main character drinks any coffee, it is STARBUCKS VIA brand instant coffee.

The second annoying quirk is the word panties. I find it very hard to believe that A) the main character would refer to her underwear as panties, and B) that it was really necessary to mention said 'panties' quite so often. There were times w
Yahoo! I've discovered Ian Hamilton, writer of the Ava Lee mystery series, and wondered how on earth I've been in the dark for so long! (It won an Arthur Ellis First Novel Award, too!)

The Water Rat of Wanchai is the first in a series featuring the whip-smart Canadian Chinese forensic accountant, Ava Lee, who undertakes a case to return swindled funds. Her partner, "Uncle", in Hong Kong, has a personal relationship with the family which puts even more pressure on Ava as she follows the money, fro
Thankfully, the US Edition doesn’t have any of the Starbucks VIA branding other reviewers have mentioned.

Anyway, I’m feeling rather complicated about this book. On the one hand, this book took me places I’ve never been before. Bangkok, Hong-Kong, Guyana, and even the British Virgin Islands. Those places’ cultures were described vividly and respectfully.

On the other hand, I had to have Google’s street view up throughout my read just to get an idea of what these places looked like. The descripti
2.5/5 stars.
... they didn't just get people's money back, they got them their lives back."

This is not a common "black novel". Ava's job consists in getting back money that has been stolen. The plot is not bad, but too long and in some parts, boring. Where is the action?
I have liked Ava, the main character, and the descriptions about cities in other countries (Ian Hamilton explains some curiosities about Canada, China, India and Guyana).

I feel bad if I decided not to continue with a saga after o
Mar 02, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is the first in the series and Ava is on the go as usual but in this one she overextends herself. The resourceful Ava finds a scamming duo and it looks like everything is going to plan when a greedy "warlord" puts Ava in her place- but just temporarily. We visit Hong Kong, Thailand, Guyana, and the British Virgin Islands. Hamilton paints Guyana as almost Somalia-like. Waiting for the Guyanese government to tag him on their watch list after his depiction of their country. You don't mess with ...more
Dec 10, 2014 Skip rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
Ava Lee is an unlikely hero: a clever, female, Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant, adept at martial arts. Basically, she is a large dollar debt collector and works with her "uncle" in Hong Kong.

In this first book in a series, she is seeking to recover $5 million stolen from a Chinese family that financed a seafood supplier. Her travels and job take her to many dangerous spots, providing a setting for her formidable negotiating and fighting skills. She also generates leads by masquerading as va
I started to read this book because I couldn’t recall ever having read a crime series that had a forensic accountant as the main protagonist, and a female one at that.

This character just grated on my nerves from the very first, and I’m not sure if it was the intention of the Author to make her dislikeable or was just the way things turned out in the end. She is rich, as we are constantly reminded whenever possible, only likes the best of everything and was an avid coffee drinker, like all the ot
May 06, 2012 Trish rated it really liked it
Well. Ian Hamilton makes forensic accounting possibly the most dangerous profession going. After spending a couple of days with this first in a series starring Ava Lee, damsel extraordinaire, I’d have to say he has a winner concept and style that is sure to keep readers interested.

Ava Lee, Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant and entrepreneur, recovers stolen funds. The story is told with details that make the theft, and the countries she visits if not entirely plausible, certainly an entertain
Aug 28, 2011 Carolyn rated it liked it
I know very little about the world of banking and high finance and found the book boring, but only in the beginning. As the plot got underway I found it difficult to put down.
The lead character, Ava, is a beautiful, Chinese-Canadian woman who works as a forensic accountant. I don't know if this is an actual job in the real world. Her specialty is recovering huge debts owed to people who were cheated in business. She lives in Toronto and her work includes a great deal of travel. Her partner is a
Jul 23, 2011 Arah-Lynda rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011, i-said

Who would think that a story about forensic accounting could be so exciting? Welcome to the world of Ava Lee, a young Canadian-Chinese accountant extraordinaire. In pursuit of five million in misappropriated funds Ava will take you on a heart pumping, journey fom Toronto to Seattle. From Hong Kong to Bangkok the tension builds until Ava finds herself in Guyana and destined for the British Virgin Islands. As an accountant who is five foot three and 115 pounds soaking wet, Ava still lays claim to
Blair Conrad
Aug 31, 2012 Blair Conrad rated it it was ok
Shelves: bought, used, fiction
First, let me tell you the most important piece of news. At least I assume the author feels this way. There's a kind of instant coffee packet that Starbucks sells, and it's called VIA.
The product's name is dropped so many times during the book, the cover might as well have had a "sponsored by" banner plastered across it.

Carrying on. The book was easy to read, and not too long (unless one considers the ratio of pages to content). The language was flat and uninteresting. Ava's a superwoman - beaut
Marci -  Serendipitous Readings
Who knew forensic accounting would be so action packed, exotic locations around the world, as well as a woman spearheading it all. I cannot wait until book 2 is released in the series !
G.B. Gordon
The writing is not inspired, but serviceable (Russell Lynes had a point); the plot's compelling enough, though. I enjoy travelogues, so those parts didn't bother me (if you don't, you might find them dragging).
The MC is ... unfortunate, to say the least. A classic plot vehicle: cardboard-flat, mary-sueish, and brand-obsessed. But here also, aggravatingly, what a white, straight man imagines a Chinese, queer woman to be like. I can get over the former and enjoy a good Bond knock-off any time. The
Eric Wright
Jan 01, 2012 Eric Wright rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, fiction
An entertaining and enlightening read, appreciated after a couple of Christmas holiday duds. Through his character, Ava--a forensic accountant cum investigator cum marital arts expert, Hamilton takes us into the thoughts and culture of the Chinese. His insights into this culture caught me by surprise, including so many details and facts that were new to me.

Ava, through joining up with an older man, 'her erstwhile uncle,' runs a business tasked with recovering stolen and misappropriated funds. To
Jan 25, 2011 Kendra rated it liked it
Shelves: own-it
A good start to a mystery series. Ava Lee is an interesting new character -- a forensic accountant who uses non traditional methods to regain massive debts that would otherwise not be repaid. She lives in Toronto (yay!) and her business partner is based in Hong Kong. It's an international mystery, so the reader is transported across the globe with Ava Lee. My only criticism of the story is the excessive descriptions of Ava Lee's mundane daily routines and the brand names associated with those ro ...more
Sep 20, 2012 Ineke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ava Li, is een mooie jonge vrouw van midden dertig. Woont in Toronto, Canada houdt van mooie spullen. Ze heeft een uitdagend en spannend beroep, forensich accountant. Het brengt haar de hele wereld over. Ava is een ster in geld opsporen. Tevens is zij heel bedreven in Bak Mei een Chinese vechtsport die weinig mensen beheersen. Nu wordt haar hulp ingeroepen door Andrew Tam. Zijn bedrijf is een behoorlijke som geld kwijtgeraakt op een slinkse manier. Hij heeft via via gehoord dat Ava heel goed is. ...more
For a light, easy and entertaining read, you can't beat an Ava Lee fix. This is the second Ian Hamilton book I've read - the other was #4 - this is #1 in the series. Enjoyed this one more - Ava Lee is a kick! She's a forensic accountant, a bak mei whiz and smart as a whip - the combination is decidedly lethal. Her business - research money trails for desperate clients and recover millions of dollars from deals gone sideways - generally involves taking on and outwitting the bad guys mentally and ...more
Shonna Froebel
Nov 21, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian
This mystery is the first in a new series featuring Ava Lee. Ava is a forensic accountant. She was born in Hong Kong, but grew up in Canada and lives in Toronto. Her work involves tracking down money that has gone missing. Her partner is Uncle Chow, an older man based in Hong Kong that she worked with early in her career and subsequently teamed up with. Ava is a small woman, but highly trained in martial arts, a skill that sometimes comes in handy in her work when traditional methods fail.
In thi
Kathy Mcdonald
May 23, 2012 Kathy Mcdonald rated it really liked it
I heard Ian Hamilton speak at a Harbourfront Author's series event and was intrigued by his description of his heroine Ava Lee and the series. There are three books in the series so far and I've now read them all and highly recommend them. Ava Lee is an accountant by profession, but the way she earns her (very impressive) living stretches the boundaries of what we would understand accountants to do! Hamilton combines a fascinating mystery about finding missing assets with incredible travels arou ...more
Robert Intriago
Jul 01, 2011 Robert Intriago rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, 2011
Wonderful protagonist. She is so interesting that I am looking foward to reading the next book. So you wonder why did I only give it three stars? For two reasons. First, I understand that the author has to set up a new protagonist and give it background. That does not mean you need 180 pages, which reads mainly like a travel log and a food review, to introduce the main character. Second, I found the story very predictable. The good parts and most of the action were reserved for the end of the bo ...more
A.S. Bond
I agree, with some of the earlier posts - I almost put this book down at first, as there's little more boring than accountancy. perhaps the ability to make this most boring of topics compelling is a real achievement. I enjoyed it and the story certainly pulled me through, but I guess I was hoping for something a little more exotic, somehow. Also, I felt that Ava's physical threat/a bilities was talked up quite a lot throughout the book, without any credible examples until much later in the story ...more
Mar 20, 2013 Estibaliz79 rated it liked it
3 1/2 para la primera entrega de las aventuras de Ava Lee, una 'detective' que en realidad es más bien una auditora especializada en asuntos económicos, inteligente e ingeniosa, pero capaz de convertirse en toda una Jet Lee si la situación así lo requiere. Sofisticada y hábil en todo tipo de situaciones, sus aventuras se caracterizan por un ritmo ágil, y la originalidad del planteamiento ciertamente es bienvenida en un género en donde parece que lo negro tiene que reducirse exclusivamente al ase ...more
Cheryl Swanson
Aug 02, 2015 Cheryl Swanson rated it liked it
This series of books about a forensic accountant, Ava Lee, was recommended to me by my son, and I pleasantly surprised how enjoyable this first book was. She is definitely an unusual character but has all the skills to travel the world looking for missing money. At times, it seems unbelievable what she does but she is very resourceful as would her male counterparts be so allow yourself to be drawn into the story.
Review and rating to come. Gritty, thrilling, addictive and ultimately exhausting (but I think in a good way). But I'll tell you one thing, I need me some light fantasy after reading all of these contemporaries; I'm not used to all this "real world" and "regular humans" stuff in my reading...
Jim Angstadt
May 25, 2016 Jim Angstadt rated it liked it
The Water Rat of Wanchai (Ava Lee #1)
Ian Hamilton

A very quick and fun read. Ava Lee and the supporting characters seem made-for-TV; as is the plot. I will read more in the series.
Sep 13, 2012 Ieva rated it it was amazing
a good read by a Canadian author - looking forward to reading more of these
Dee at EditorialEyes
Mar 16, 2012 Dee at EditorialEyes rated it really liked it
For this review and others, visit the EditorialEyes Blog.
3.5 stars.

I first caught wind of the mysterious Ava Lee on a subway poster advertising her adventures in the book The Wild Beasts of Wuhan, by Ian Hamilton. Ava is fearless, sexy, and lethal, the poster proclaimed, not to mention her profession: she’s a forensic accountant. Yay?

That was enough to pique my interest. Wuhan is the third book in Hamilton’s Ava Lee series, which are currently being published two a year. I picked up last y
May 18, 2017 Mike rated it liked it
I heard the author interviewed on CBC about his latest (8th?) Ava Lee book, so thought I'd start with #1.
Ava is a tiny, 115 pound, young, gay, Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant and martial arts expert who recovers money lost in financial scams.
I liked the character and the story, and will read more of his books. There was a little too much backstory and excessive detail about her expensive clothes and Chinese life in Toronto, but the author has traveled and worked extensively around the wor
Margaret1358 Joyce
Dec 18, 2016 Margaret1358 Joyce rated it it was amazing
The first in a series, this vivid tale of financial crime takes the main protagonist, a Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who is skilled in an ancient Chinese martial art, from her Yorkville, Toronto condo, to Hong Kong, Thailand and Guyana, as she follows the money! Her partner is an older Chinese gentleman crime specialist in Hong Kong; her family and colleagues are all over the map. Geographic and historical details are riveting, as is the brilliance of the logic that gives a heroic dimens ...more
Tom Johnson
Mar 05, 2017 Tom Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Superb Writing.”

Ava Lee is assigned to track down five million dollars cheated from a relative of Uncle’s friend in a fish scam. The trail is easy to follow, but the people in power that Ava must deal with are worse than the crooks, and are easily turned to murder. And their power stretches beyond their own locale. However, they’ve never met someone like Ava Lee, and Uncle’s worldwide connections might prove even more powerful than world dictators.

Although the numbering system appears messed u
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Why is it not available as an e-book in the US 1 10 Feb 20, 2013 08:38AM  
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Ian Hamilton has been a journalist, a senior executive with the federal government, a diplomat, and a businessman with international links. He has written for several magazines and newspapers in Canada and the U.S., including Maclean's, Boston Magazine, Saturday Night, Regina Leader Post, Calgary Albertan, and the Calgary Herald. His nonfiction book, The Children's Crusade, was a Canadian Book of ...more
More about Ian Hamilton...

Other Books in the Series

Ava Lee (9 books)
  • The Disciple of Las Vegas (Ava Lee, #2)
  • The Wild Beasts of Wuhan (Ava Lee, #3)
  • The Red Pole of Macau (Ava Lee, #4)
  • The Scottish Banker of Surabaya (Ava Lee, #5)
  • The Two Sisters of Borneo (Ava Lee, #6)
  • The King of Shanghai (Ava Lee, #7)
  • The Princeling of Nanjing (Ava Lee, #8)
  • The Couturier of Milan (Ava Lee, #9)

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