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Ava Lee #1

The Deadly Touch Of The Tigress: 1

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Ava Lee is a petite young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who works for an elderly Hong Kong-based 'Uncle'. In tracking millions of dollars across continents the stakes are often high, sometimes violent and always shady, but Ava Lee's razor-sharp intelligence and unorthodox rules of engagement allow her to succeed where traditional methods have failed.

This is a novel full of suspense, with an equally fascinating heroine.

416 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Ian Hamilton

27 books331 followers
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 the Month Club selection.

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5 stars
567 (21%)
4 stars
1,119 (43%)
3 stars
723 (27%)
2 stars
150 (5%)
1 star
34 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 376 reviews
April 2, 2019
Dd 5/01/2017. Loved the book. Decided to give the rest of the series a try. And I loved it all!
I was even ready to forgive my favourite Ava her instant coffee/shirts/pumps of specific firms penchant.
I definitely will follow it up and do rereads! And if I manage (at some point!) to get my hands on any translations to my other favourite languages, I will be a one deliriously happy camper!
Dd 25/09/2017. Actually, the book (and the series altogether) is freakishly memorable.
God, I even started loving more the more mundane jobs of mine, if you can imagine that!
BTW, this series needs serious promotion as this could be a best-selling gem if only people heard more about the series! It needs to obtain visibility and more market traction, the rest of the success recipe is already in there! The series is well-researched, with beautifully crafted story lines, flowing language and memorable characters who go a hell of a long way during this series!
Dd 2018. I'm halfway through the 10th installment (The Imam of Tawi-Tawi) and it's gonna end sometime real soon! In my desperate attempts to postpone my pangs of the lack of Ava Lee's 11th book induced withdrawal, I decided to reread the #1 once again.
When I started this series off, I never would have dared to believe this would turn out to become one of my favourite series ever! Even me, a freaky stickler for details, can find precious few details to grumble about. And it's mostly her coffee and clothing habits, which got a bit ridiculous somewhere near the middle of the series. Those got remediated in the later installments.
I feel almost voyeuristic pleasure to watch Ava go and take up all sorts of craziest challenges and get them resolved to utmost astonishment of the rest of the set of characters and satisfaction of the reader. Really, how do you get a boatload of money spent in an online casino back? Ava, obviously, gets it done. Aways. Along the way she never forgets her sports, food, family (professional and social ones), gets the gals, accumulates quite a nest egg for herself and changes careers. Nicely done, Ian! Count me a lifelong sucker for the Ava Lee series!
I can only hope this series never ends!
So far, can't help rereading it!
Profile Image for Paul Weiss.
1,250 reviews232 followers
September 13, 2022
Putting new meaning to the expression, “Follow the Money”!

My ex-mother-in-law always used to tease my first wife that she couldn’t have picked a husband more likely to be boring! After all, an accountant? C’mon! I guess author Ian Hamilton never got the memo!

Ava Lee is certainly a character and an exciting original at that – female; a shockingly tiny but skilled and quite lethal martial artist; a talented forensic accountant with an uncanny ability to sniff out the track of hidden money; a sharp intellect and a willingness to engage her erstwhile adversaries with tactics that definitely tread the razor edge of legality; Asian heritage with a list of, shall we call it, shady contacts that may reach even into the Triads; multilingual; lesbian but fully aware of the effect that her feminine wiles have on straight male humanity; and did I mention her nerves of steel?

THE WATER RAT OF WANCHAI tells the tale of Ava Lee’s hunt for $5 million gone missing in the greasy hands of a multinational seafood company preparing cooked shrimp for a US retailer. The trail wends its way through the ladyboy sex-for-sale culture of Thailand to Hong Kong, the British Virgin Islands and to Georgetown, the sleazy capital of Guyana. Ian Hamilton’s graphic portrayal of Georgetown as a crime-ridden, third world hellhole that is definitely not a place rational people want to vacation is beyond delicious.

I found THE WATER RAT OF WANCHAI with a serendipitous visit to one of our Local Free Library boxes and I’m thrilled to have discovered that it was the debut novel in a series that now stretches to, (can you believe it?), no less than 18 titles. Can’t wait to find a copy of THE DISCIPLE OF LAS VEGAS.

Definitely recommended for fans of the mystery and thriller genres.

Paul Weiss
Profile Image for DeB.
999 reviews252 followers
January 5, 2017
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, from Hong Kong, to Thailand, Guyana and finally the British Virgin Islands.

The plot is smart, suspenseful, loaded with fascinating local colour and trivia and filled with unexpected twists. It's a real pleasure to discover a mystery writer who has created a storyline with an exciting heroine, an unusual detecting profession and fascinating sleuthing adventures.

And how did I find this series? Well, upon searching Goodreads Giveaways, I discovered Ian Hamilton's newest book offered by Anansai Press, a small Canadian boutique publisher. I didn't win the book, but I found the author! Good publicity, Goodreads!

Profile Image for Left Coast Justin.
416 reviews91 followers
August 11, 2021
Ouch. This is bad. I'm not sure how people get past the flagrant racism and brand-name pumping that litter this book.

Sketchy ethics? Taking her client at his word, our heroine kidnaps the alleged swindler (and his girlfriend, and his bodyguard, both of whom are presumably blameless) and subjects them to what might be generously termed a lack of civil liberties. Then she accesses the bad guy's bank account and recovers the disputed sum. Fine, but she decides to help herself to the rest of his savings, too, because, well, the guy is tied up and peeing himself, so why not?

Completely unbelievable action sequences? Confronted by two men who collectively outweigh her by a factor of four, she decides to attack the one wielding a knife first, whom she dispatches with a "piston-like" blow to the nose with her knuckle. Of course, in real life, the thing to do with a knife-wielding assailant is to put as much distance between you and them as possible, because knives are dangerous and quite unspecific as to where and how they can injure you. (Pedantic aside: The human arm, with its long, straight sections and bendy joints, cannot meaningfully be compared to a piston.)

Oh, and Mr. Hamilton: thanks for the third-grade-level explanation of why Toronto is now teeming with Chinese, who are grasping and acquisitive and cluster like fleas. And also for clarifying the definition of "hell-hole": A city without a Marriott Hotel for our heroine to stay in.

Fact: You cannot get the CEO of a major corporation to drop everything and come to the phone by calling the company's switchboard and claiming to be from the FDA. That's why these CEOs have quality departments; and while regulatory agencies in Mr. Hamilton's native Canada may have real authority, down here in the USA they've been rendered about as fierce and frightening as fourteen-year-old cocker spaniels.

In sum: One reason few people write action novels based around the amount of ice and polyphosphates inside a bag of frozen shrimp is because....You know what? Never mind.
Profile Image for Alan Teder.
2,061 reviews110 followers
June 12, 2023
The Deadly Touch of Ava Lee
Review of the Sphere paperback edition (2011), equivalent to the House of Anansi Spiderline edition (2011)
Ava said, “There is a French saying that applies to my situation: 'Be careful of that animal - it is very vicious. When you attack it, it defends itself.’"* - pg. 388-389 The Deadly Touch of the Tigress

The Deadly Touch of the Tigress is actually the same book as The Water Rat of Wanchai, as for some reason the U.K. publisher Sphere is retitling all of the Ava Lee books using the Tigress moniker.

The Ava Lee series was a new discovery for me from only a few months back and I had the pleasure of 7 books to catch up on (1 prequel and 6 novels) while waiting for the 7th novel The King of Shanghai due out at the end of 2014.

This re-read left me with the same favourable impression of this quirky anti-hero series which uses the unlikely starting premise of a forensic accountant whose international money retrieval business takes her on whirlwind global travels that would rival an Ian Fleming James Bond novel. As the above quote implies, Ava Lee is very ready to defend herself against various criminal foes.

Well recommended if you are looking for a Lisbeth Salander type of fix.

*the original French saying seems to be "Cet animal est si féroce qu’il se défend quand il est attaqué." (That animal is so ferocious that it will defend itself when it is attacked.) attributed to Auguste Blanqui.
Profile Image for Eli  Lemons.
16 reviews17 followers
February 24, 2016
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 descriptions of them were just too sparse and lacking. Descriptions were at their best in this story when they were of the people Ava was interacting with.

The MC was a relatively one dimensional character, but there were two very important things that stood out to me about her. Ava Lee absolutely abhors:

• Fat people
• Filipinos

Of which I am both.

Personally, I found it rather amusing. Here we have this super lethal female heroine, kicking ass, taking names and booking flights. Somewhere amongst all of that she finds the time (several times) to rant to herself about how slummy the Phillipines are.

There’s something to be said about the consistency in which her character’s prejudices are written, or the fact they’re even there at all. It’s quite coincidental that these prejudices are descriptors of my own, hence my amusement.

Despite the male-gaze writing style, the MC’s sexuality felt extremely natural. It wasn’t even the focus of the story. I was actually surprised, given the extensive descriptions of Ava Lee’s body, that it wasn’t used as a plot device for fantasy fulfillment.

3.5 stars overall. Interesting concept and good pacing, however, there was not enough mystery nor conflict. I may try the next book in the series since it actually involves Filipino characters. I’m curious to see what kind of fit Ava Lee is going to throw about it.
Profile Image for Skip.
3,345 reviews411 followers
January 29, 2019
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 various governmental officials or feigning as a Triad member. Look forward to reading the next one in this series.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,438 followers
June 27, 2012
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 entertaining fiction. I loved learning things about international banking practices and international trade financing that I did not know—and watching her manipulate the truth in service to the ends.

Ava, talented though she is, ran into bad men and roadblocks that challenged even her exquisite poise and capabilities. Straightforward and willing to compromise when required, Ava was occasionally obliged to kick, punch, or otherwise subdue her attackers physically when her clever international financial machinations did not work as planned. Skilled in the legendary bak mei techniques, she sometimes may have sustained injury, but was victorious in the end.

Bak Mei is defined in Wikipedia as “Bak Mei (Chinese: 白眉; pinyin: Bái Méi; literally "White Eyebrows") is said to have been one of the legendary Five Elders — survivors of the destruction of the Shaolin Temple by the Qing Dynasty imperial regime (1644–1912). Bak Mei has been fictionalized in films, most recently portrayed by Gordon Liu in the Hollywood film Kill Bill, Vol 2." It is a “secret, formerly forbidden art, a form of self-defense that is purely functional, designed to inflict damage. And it can be lethal when applied to the extreme.”

Our girl wins the day and wins the chance to travel the world in search of new transgressors. This series is definitely worth a look. Don’t be put off by all the references to clothing labels and Chinese ways of eating and drinking. All this is close enough to actual Chinese culture to pass muster and to inspire in this reader at least a sense of curiosity about how the author had the nerve to create a young female lesbian Chinese character who clearly is very far from his own older white male former-diplomat reality. I’d say Hamilton succeeded admirably, leaving some wiggle room for a few guffaws and the suspension of disbelief.
Profile Image for Carolyn Walsh .
1,540 reviews595 followers
July 6, 2015
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 an elderly Hong Kong man whom she calls 'Uncle", and she works for a percentage of the recovered funds.I found the locale of Guyana fascinating, which is an unusual setting for an action book. The other settings were not described as vividly. Her travels in this case takes her from Toronto, through Hong Kong, Bangkok, Guyana, and the British Virgin Islands.
Her assignment is to recover a 5 million dollar debt owed to a nephew of one of 'Uncles" friends. I thought Ava was methodical, ruthless, cold and brutal and I did not warm to her. She knows some obscure and deadly martial arts. In Guyana she meets Captain Robbins who seems to control the police, army officers, politicians and criminals and she must contend with him and his nasty brother in her attempts to recover the debt.
This is the first of a series, and hope that subsequent books may make Ava more vulnerable and likable.
Profile Image for Rubi.
295 reviews107 followers
January 12, 2016
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 only the first book, so I will give it another opportunity. But I hope the second one will be much better than this one.

"When was the last time, she thought again, she had misjudged a situation so badly? When was the last time she had misjudged a man so badly?"
Profile Image for Ms.pegasus.
720 reviews138 followers
November 12, 2017
The main character is a young, cosmopolitan Canadian born Chinese woman. She's skilled in the martial arts (of course!) and lives by her wits. These basics project a comic-book vibe. Hamilton, however, has made Ava Lee a well-connected forensic accountant whose business partner, a shadowy figure she calls “Uncle,” can supply muscle if necessary. Part of Ava's appeal is that she prefers the subtlety of leveraging the thief's own self-interest against him, rather than relying on force. Although Ava earns her extraordinary fees through recovering the stolen assets, and not merely tracing the fraudulent channel, that bit of expertise permits Hamilton to devise an unusually complex plot.

Ava's client is a man named Andrew Tam, nephew of a close friend of “Uncle.” That relationship places extra pressure on Ava. Tam heads a private lending consortium. They specialize in large-scale short term commercial loans bridging cash flow fluctuations in complex business transactions. In this case, Tam's company, Dynamic Financial, is out $5 million dollars due to the fraudulent activities of Jackson Seto, head of Seafood Partners, a dodgy seafood wholesaler based in Thailand. Ava asks Tam how he met Seto. It was through a family connection he answers. He was close friends with Henry Chang who was friends with Jackson's brother Frank Seto. Frank Seto was the son-in-law of a wealthy Hong Kong businessman named Carter Chan. Chang, unfortunately, had no idea that Frank's sterling credentials did not extend to his brother Jackson. Ava's pursuit of the lost $5million will take her to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Guyana, and the British Virgin Islands.

Hamilton elaborates on Chinese culture in a few superficial ways. Ava is not merely trained in kung-fu, but in an obscure and deadly form called bak mei. Personal relationships are emphacized throughout the book. Ava and Uncle only deal with Chinese clients. Ava's father arranges her introduction to Frank's father-in-law, insuring that Frank Seto will accept Ava's call inquiring about the whereabouts of the missing Jackson Seto. Ava herself is well-connected through contacts she made at the exclusive Havergal College high school in Toronto. (Alumnae refer to themselves as the “Old Girls.” The bond is stronger than being a sorority sister). She continues to exert her considerable charms in her travels, gathering valuable local intelligence at each stop.

The book is an action-filled thriller. Much of the early part of the book is devoted to Ava's background. Her mother is wife number 2. It appears that Ava's father is currently transitioning from wife number 3 to wife number 4. His wealth is ample enough to support this vast extended family on a luxurious scale, and everyone is on ostensibly friendly terms. However, the tension intensifies when two uniquely deadly villains appear on the scene. Captain Robbins is de facto head of both politics and criminal activities on Guyana. His protection permits Jackson Seto to live a carefree life on the island. Robbins' brother Jack is a corrupt police chief and enforcer on the British Virgin Islands, a mecca of offshore secret bank accounts.

I was attracted to this book by the forensic accounting background of Ava, and was a bit disappointed that wasn't a larger part of the plot (I'm sure I'm in the minority in that opinion). However, this turned out to be an entertaining bit of escapist reading with interesting plot turns and a vicarious taste of high living in exotic locales. Juxtaposed with the seamiest depths of corruption, the series is easily addictive. It does not surprise me that the Canadian Broadcasting Company is developing a limited TV series based on Hamilton's series.
Profile Image for Cate's Book Nut Hut.
363 reviews29 followers
August 13, 2023
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 other characters in this novel. As a female lead character she is not the strong independent woman I was hoping for; the kind that inspires other women to reach their full potential. In fact she is quite the opposite, she comes out of the page as being some sort of superwoman that can do anything, have anyone and anything she likes. This in itself is not a bad thing, but the way in which she is written could possibly make her an intimidating character to those women readers who are not supremely confident in their own skin and lives and, in my opinion this is something no Author should do to their readers, make them feel less than they are. In an effort to make her interesting she is Chinese-Canadian, although how this could redeem her flaws I am still not sure.

The coffee company Starbucks was mentioned so many times in this book that I broke off to look and see if it had been published through some program they funded. Another disappointment, apart from the obviously brand push, was that there is actually very little forensic accounting in this book, and what small amount there is takes place in a whole 5 or 6 pages. Combine these points with flat and uninteresting language and you have a book that really does not deliver for me, and this is the reason behind by 2 thumbs rating.

Given that this is marketed as an international thriller, I failed to get the thrill from the book that was hinted at and, although a taste of each country visited in the storyline was given, it just wasn’t enough to make this a series I would want to read anymore of.

Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.com/2014/11/05...

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Profile Image for Chris.
1,501 reviews31 followers
June 27, 2014
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 Ava as some very powerful men soon find out. I just love this series-fast paced and with good plot resolution!
Profile Image for Arah-Lynda.
337 reviews532 followers
December 3, 2011

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 some unique gifts of strength and perseverance, chief among them the ancient study of Bak Mei, all of which she will need when she comes up against Captain Robbins, a god father like figure who seemingly controls everyone and everything in Guyana. If Ava is to complete her assignment and redirect the five million in stolen funds back to her client she will no doubt need Captain Robbins help......but can she trust him? Who says bean counters don't have fun? I for one will be waiting for the next installment of Ava Lee's adventures in unorthodox accounting.

Profile Image for Blair Conrad.
739 reviews29 followers
October 18, 2012
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 - beautiful, smart, insanely desirable to men, trained in an improbably secret brand of martial arts, you name it. To make her a little interesting, she's Canadian, Chinese, and a lesbian. Or at least lesbian enough to mention a girlfriend twice.

There was very little forensic accounting in the book - that part was over in about 5 pages. Then there was some running around and some illegal vigilante actions, just so Ava could make some money. In the end, we're left with an uninteresting story with an unlikable protagonist.
Profile Image for Andrea.
798 reviews30 followers
February 6, 2018
Smart, resourceful, independent and elegant - Ava Lee is a heroine for our times. Oh, and did I mention kick-ass?

Set some years after the prequel (but published well before), I really appreciated some of the little details connecting Ava to her backstory, such as her wearing her antique ivory chignon pin to set off her business attire.

But that aside, this is a new case for Ava and Uncle - one that sees our bak-mei practising forensic accountant travelling from Canada, to Hong Kong, to Thailand, then on to Guyana and the British Virgin Islands where the final, somewhat brutal, act plays out. She has been working to recover $5M from a shady shrimp dealer laying low in lawless Guyana. I know it sounds a bit ridiculous, but it's actually really clever, and the plot is almost breathlessly fast-paced. I can't wait to fit another Ava Lee outing into my reading schedule.
Profile Image for Chrisl.
607 reviews87 followers
December 15, 2019
Read the first four Ava Lee before burning out on the world Hamilton presents. Corruption among worldwide elite ... some interesting settings and crimes but unbelievable characters.
Perhaps 3.53 average score for series first few
Profile Image for Buchdoktor.
1,876 reviews133 followers
January 7, 2019
Ava Lee arbeitet freiberuflich als Wiederbeschafferin großer Geldsummen, die im Zuge privater Geldgeschäfte veruntreut worden sind. Wer sich privat Geld leiht oder einem Geschäftspartner eine Gegenleistung schuldig bleibt, kann das kaum auf juristischem Weg durchsetzen, wenn die Geschäftspartner in diversen asiatischen Ländern leben oder es kaum Belege für den Deal gibt.

In ihrem ersten Fall der Reihe geht es um den veruntreuten Betrag von 5 Millionen Dollar, der bei einem Geschäft mit Shrimps für eine US-Supermarktkette unter die Räder gekommen zu sein scheint. Ava fordert vom Aufraggeber/Geschädigten keine Anzahlung, sie wird erst dann bezahlt, wenn sie das Geld wiederbeschafft hat. Ihr Geschäftsmodell funktioniert, weil sie ein fein ausgelegtes Netz von Beziehungen pflegt, in dem Geben und Nehmen immer wieder ausgeglichen werden müssen. Es funktioniert, weil Ava sich chinesisches Denken wie einen Handschuh angezogen hat - obwohl sie in Kanada zur Schule gegangen ist - und absolut überzeugend auftritt.

In der Familie Lee gibt es eine chinesisch denkende und eine kanadisch sozialisierte Tochter. Ava spricht Kantonesisch, Mandarin und Englisch, beherrscht eine nicht ganz so bekannte asiatische Kampfkunst und hat ein Studium als Steuerberaterin und Wirtschaftsprüferin absolviert. Sie hält geduldig die Marotten ihrer Mutter aus, die samt den Töchtern und einer äußerst großzügigen finanziellen Grundlage von Vater Lee als Außenposten in Toronto in Position gebracht wurde. Die ältere Schwester Marian hat einen Kanadier geheiratet und 100% kanadische Kinder in die Welt gesetzt. Wie Marian zukünftig in Avas Mobile platziert wird, darauf bin ich wirklich neugierig.

Die Familienverhältnisse der Lees und Avas Beziehung zu „Onkel“, ihrem Geschäftspartner und Mentor in Hongkong, schildert Ian Hamilton sehr ausführlich. Wer vorhat, die Reihe zu lesen, sollte sich das Lee’sche Geschäftsnetz fotografisch genau merken. Hier kommt es darauf an, wer aus welcher Stadt stammt, wer mit wem gemeinsam zur Schule gegangen ist oder bei welchem Kampfkunstmeister ausgebildet wurde. Hamilton geht mit dieser Gewichtung klassisch chinesisch vor: er nähert sich seinem Thema vom Rand allmählich zur Mitte, bewegt sich vom vermeintlich Nebensächlichen zum Kern der Sache, den er als China-Kenner einem Asiaten gegenüber niemals so direkt ansprechen würde. Ganz anders dagegen die Verhältnisse in Guyana, wo Ava auf der Jagd nach den 5 Millionen Station macht, dort gibt es ein einfaches Nein. Nein, es gibt hier kein sauberes Trinkwasser und nein, die Straßen werden hier nicht repariert. Ava hätte das sicher diplomatischer ausgedrückt …

Ian Hamilton hat jahrelang Geschäfte in Asien gemacht und verarbeitet sein profundes Wissen über asiatische Denkweisen in der Krimi-Reihe um Ava Lee. Vielleicht überschätzt er seine europäischen Leser damit etwas; denn die Beziehung zwischen Ava und Onkel, auch sie typisch chinesisch, könnte eine interkulturelle Erläuterung gebrauchen, die in den folgenden Bänden evtl. noch folgt.

Die Reihe (bei Kein & Aber)
1. Die Wasserratte von Wanchai (2011)
2. Der Jünger von Las Vegas (2012)
3. Die wilden Bestien von Wuhan (2013)
4. Der rote Stab von Macao (2014)

fortgesetzt bei Krug & Schadenberg:
5. Der schottische Bankier von Surabaya (2018)
6. Die zwei Schwestern von Borneo (2019)
Profile Image for Lilisa.
440 reviews63 followers
August 15, 2014
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 physically. She's a curious collection of tradition, independence, feminism and a woman who honors her word with a healthy respect for her opponents. This novel takes us on a whirlwind tour of Toronto, Seattle, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Guyana and the British Virgin Islands chasing after bad guys who have swindled Andrew Tam out of millions of dollars in the seafood business. A fast-paced and fun read. (Full disclosure - I got this book through Goodreads Giveaway.)
Profile Image for Robert Intriago.
733 reviews5 followers
September 1, 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 book. The author does a very good job in building the character of the bad guys. This is specially true of Captain Robbins. I would like to see what the author does with the main character in the second book now that he has established her background.
Profile Image for Judith E.
568 reviews193 followers
June 11, 2017
Ava Lee, forensic accountant, easily weaves her way through the world of international banking and corporations to recover large sums of stolen money. She also practices bak wei, meticulously plans her revovery scheme and has a large network of support that has been arranged by her Uncle. An interesting tale and the first of three in a series.
Profile Image for Marci -.
433 reviews23 followers
January 25, 2011
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 !
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,187 reviews
April 30, 2020
She felt her first flush of irritation. “I really don’t want to hurt you, or the woman upstairs,” she said, increasing the pressure on the knife tip.

“The password for the computer is ‘waterrat,’” he said in a rush.

“Your zodiac sign?” she asked.

Profile Image for Eric Wright.
Author 16 books29 followers
January 3, 2012
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 look at Ava is a slim, very attractive Chinese woman in her early 30's. She is based in Toronto, while he is based in Hong Kong.

In this suspenseful tale ranging from Ava home to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Guiana we find her chasing two sleazy characters, the worst of whom is the water rat of Wanchai. These two have through a series of slick moves misappropriated millions geared by buying and delivering shrimp to an American chain. They and the money have disappeared. Ava must find them and somehow persuade them to return it or the client will be both bankrupt and shamed among his Chinese contemporaries.

In each of the locales we gain insights into the country, culture and character of the people, both the hoi poloi and the sleazy underbelly of society. We also gain insights into the international money markets.

In Guiana, Ava faces her stiffest opponest, the ruthless power behind the government of the run-down country. Will she escape his clutches with money restored to her client, or will her nemesis triumph? A very fast-paced story ensues. The only warning I would give is that readers may find that Ada's sexual orientation is troubling. Fortunately overt sexuality does not occur.

Profile Image for Carole.
8 reviews
April 30, 2018
I had to read "The Water Rat of Wanchai" for a book club but ridiculous plot points (btw, and just so you know, "Canadian government officials abroad cannot... provide legal advice [or] intervene in private legal matters or financial estate disputes"), clunky writing, and fixations made this a fail for me.

Starbucks Via packets were mentioned so many times that I began to suspect that Starbucks paid for product placement. I also found the over repetition of brand names that the main character, Ava Lee, wears/owns just to let the reader know the main character is rich and dresses well, and the (at times) long lists of everything the characters were eating, seriously detracted from my enjoyment of the story.

And what the heck was with the author's fixation on the main character's "panties"? Good lord. In my over 50 years of reading novels I don't think I've ever read so much about a character and her underwear. Here's an example, "She began to sweat... her panties absorbing what they could and then sending the excess down her legs." I started to feel like a pervert just reading about it. ick.

Some in my book club loved "The Water Rat of Wanchai" and have gone on to read the others in the series but as for me, I'd rather reread James Clavel's "Tai-Pan", even if Ava Lee does think his writing is "turgid". HA!
Profile Image for Shonna Froebel.
3,781 reviews61 followers
November 21, 2012
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 this book, Uncle has been approached by an old friend to recover $5 million that has gone missing in a deal with a seafood company. Ava's investigation leads her to Hong Kong, Thailand, Guyana and the British Virgin Islands and into many interesting situations.
There are a lot of interesting characters and a fast-moving plot.
This is a thriller with a strong female protagonist. I'm looking forward to the next one.
Profile Image for A.P. Taber.
Author 1 book104 followers
September 10, 2018
In a sea of 5-stars I come in rating it as 3. I read this book because of my book club. Not sure I would have really gravitated towards it otherwise. Part mission impossible, part 007 the narrative is fast-paced but the main character is just impossible to relate to. She’s almost a superhero. I knew I couldn’t stand her when I secretly kept wishing someone was going to kill her. But, no! Of course she doesn’t die and she goes on to win the trophy at the end. I’m not sure what the author’s problem is with Guyana, and I admit I don’t know much about the place, but if I was to trust the author’s descriptions I would never set foot there. I’m surprised it’s even a country by the way it was described in the book. Ultimately, although the book was entertaining at parts, I just can’t see myself reading another novel with that protagonist. 3-Stars and I feel I’m being generous.
250 reviews2 followers
May 23, 2012
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 around the world. Ava is beautiful, extraordinarily intelligent and can subdue any foe with use of bak mei, a little known and incredibly powerful martial art. The Water Rat of Wanchai is a great introduction to what will be an ongoing series I have no doubt.
Profile Image for Wendy.
746 reviews7 followers
January 14, 2019
4.5* Who knew forensic accounting can be so exciting? Absolutely love the main character, Ava Lee, and her kick-ass get it done attitude. She works to recover money stolen from firms around the world. She lives in Toronto while her partner, Uncle, is based in Hong Kong. This book sees her going to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Guyana, and British Virgin Islands.
Pleasantly surprised that Ava is gay. It doesn't really factor in how she does the work. I like that it's just mentioned, sort of in passing, to begin with (when she recalled going to Bangkok with a woman she was dating.)
Definitely reading the next book soon. Have high Hope's for this series.
Profile Image for G.B. Gordon.
Author 12 books90 followers
February 23, 2017
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 latter, though ... Yeah, no.
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