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The Water Rat of Wanchai Paperback – Jan 24 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Spiderline; 1st Edition edition (Jan. 24 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887842518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887842511
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #144,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


. . . a book about a forensic accountant that has tension, suspense and action. [. . .] When the central character looks like Lucy Liu, kicks like Jackie Chan and has a travel budget like Donald Trump, the story is anything but boring. [. . .] I look forward to the next one. (Anne Sutherland Montreal Gazette 2011-03-11)

If the other novels are half as good as this debut by Ian Hamilton, then readers are going to celebrate. [. . .] This is a terrific story that's certain to be on the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel list this year. Even better news is that the next three novels in the series are already written and ready to print. Ava Lee is going to be chasing the accounts for a long, long time. (Margaret Cannon Globe and Mail 2011-02-17)

. . . one of the most engaging female leads I've had the pleasure of reading about in quite a while . . . an absolute page-turner that's difficult to put down. (Scott Stewart Inside Halton 2011-03-10)

Ava is unbeatable at just about everything. Just wait for her to roll out her bak mei against the bad guys. She's perfect. She's fast. (Jack Batten Toronto Star 2011-02-19)

In the age of Lisbeth Salander, it's not hard to see why Hamilton's jet-setting heroine is so appealing. (Kevin Chong National Post 2011-02-18)

Readers will discern in Ava undertones of Lisbeth Salandar, the ferocious protagonist of the late Stieg Larsson's crime novels . . . irresistible . . . (Joan Barfoot London Free Press 2011-03-26)

The Water Rat of Wanchai delivers . . . [it] feels like the beginning of a crime-fighting saga . . . [a] great story told with colour, energy and unexpected punch. (Don Graves Hamilton Spectator 2011-04-08)

. . . enjoyable . . . [Ian Hamilton] creates a terrific atmosphere of suspense. (Sarah Weinman Quill & Quire 2011-05-01)

Few heroines are as feisty as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander, but Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee could give her a run for her money . . . Gripping . . . [Ava is] smart, gutsy, and resourceful. (Stylist UK 2011-10-05)

"The desperate situations in The Water Rat of Wanchai are what keep the pages turning, but what will keep readers coming back to the series is Ava Lee." (Buried in Print Blog 2012-04-02)

"The Water Rat of Wanchai is a solid and exciting read and a great start to the series." (Editorial Eyes 2012-04-07)

About the Author

Ian Hamilton is the author of seven novels in the Ava Lee series: The Dragon Head of Hong Kong: The Ava Lee Prequel, The Water Rat of Wanchai, The Disciple of Las Vegas, The Wild Beasts of Wuhan, The Red Pole of Macau, The Scottish Banker of Surabaya, and The Two Sisters of Borneo. The Water Rat of Wanchai was the winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel, an Top 100 Book of the Year, an Top 100 Editors’ Pick, an Canadian Pick, an Mysteries and Thrillers Pick, a Toronto Star Top 5 Fiction Book of the Year, and a Quill & Quire Top 5 Fiction Book of the Year.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By bjb on Feb. 14 2011
Format: Paperback
This book was very difficult to put down! The pace just continued to build throughout, the narrative never faltered and the touches of local colour throughout Ava's journey were incredible. I am hooked! Cannot wait 'till the next book is out!!!

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 8 2011
Format: Paperback
Here is my list of reasons as to why I think this is a blockbuster of a novel in the crime-thriller vein:
1) Nothing stock about the main characters in this first novel of a promising series. Ava Lee, as the protagonist, is both shrewd and wily in how she tackles a complex investigation, Chinese style, involving delinquent corporate accounts, and is well complemented by a cast of equally artful and believable antagonists;
2) The novel is fast moving and seamless as it moves between a number of global settings. The characters appear to be well suited to their clime, whether it be in big entrepots like Hong Kong, or tropical spots like the British Virgin Islands, or dank little hell holes like Guyana. Hamilton makes sure things happen big time;
3) Ava belongs to the new smart generation of gumshoes who is connected to their offshore sources through cellphone and the Internet. Millions of dollars are wired in an instant from the China Mainland to the US and the Caribbean because the deals are big and the stakes are high. Ava'a task as a forensic accountant is to act on behalf of a client in chasing down an American businessman who has absconded with a big private loan after his shrimp packing company went bust;
4) The reader should have no trouble understanding how Ava operates as a sleuth. It is certainly not by the book. Pragmatics and stealth are her game in running her quarry, Seto, to ground. It doesn't hurt to have a mentor back home who is willing to advise her and bankroll her many hair-raising escapades;
5) Ava has to make some very risky alliances with very unscrupulous people who are looking for a piece of the action.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By TFSOttawa on Feb. 9 2011
Format: Paperback
Who knew a book about seafood fraud could be so interesting!? It's great to see a strong, female character who is as strong in body as she is in mind. The locations were different than your run of the mill thriller and the villains were so three dimensional. I look forward to reading the next Ava Lee novel to see what trouble she gets herself in (and out of).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JDM on Feb. 8 2011
Format: Paperback
Every once in a while you come across a new book that is the first in a series and curse because you have to wait for the next book to come out................This is a great read, Hamilton spellbinds you with the plot, the places, the people, and the food. Fantastic, bring on more of Ava Lee..........
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Format: Paperback
I agree that there is repetition about Ava's routine in every novel. This is somewhat typical of every series novel or mystery, because the author can't assume that the reader has read every book, or at least in order, and some background is necessary. I also agree that there are product names mentioned in every book. However, I would argue that this ties into the author's characterization. It shows Ava's independence, her taste, and how she uses both Asian and Western culture to dress and present herself. For one who makes so much money I am always amazed that she barely ever shops, and that she always buys the same things if she does shop. I feel that these details about her routine and simple (mostly black) dressing show her strong sense of self and her awesome work ethic. Although she is beautiful, she dresses simply and wears only mascara and a touch of red lipstick (and perfume on occasion). The brands help the reader understand her understated taste. She is all about getting down to business.

I enjoyed these books more than any mysteries I've read in years. I devoured them, and couldn't put them down. Even though I know nothing about accounting, I found it fascinating. I also love the detail in which Hamilton describes the various countries Ava visits. I almost feel that I have been there with her! I do agree that the author should probably hone his detailed description or find a new and fresh way of telling us the basics (for example, in every story he explains her martial arts training in depth), but the plot and the pacing more than make up for the few slow parts. And anyway, repetition isn't always bad. Don't we all expect James Bond to dress in his tux and order martinis in every book and movie? All that said, Ava is still a refreshing new modern heroine, one who just happens to be gay.
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By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER on July 1 2011
Format: Paperback
An Ava Lee novel, book1 in the series

I didn't know forensic accounting could be so exciting...After reading this book I will never see numbers the same way... This story is one that is immediately engaging, quite original in nature and fun to read. I couldn't zip through the pages fast enough, a fascinating tale to the end.

Ava Lee, a young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant specializes in recovering massive debts, at 5'3', 115lbs she may not seem to be a threat but her sharpness and unorthodox way of operating have guaranteed her success where others have failed. She works out of Toronto for a Hong Kong based company run by a mysterious man known as "Uncle". They are hired on a commission bases by people who suspect they have been defrauded and hope to recover some of their missing funds.

In "The Water Rat of Wanchai", Ava accepts to track down the $5 million owed to one of "Uncle's" relatives. His nephew financed a major order of cooked shrimp for a large U.S. retailer, after the money was paid out; the retailer reneged on his responsibility to repay the debt.

The first part of the book may be a bit slow and the narrative slightly devoted to everyday life however I enjoyed Ava's travelogue to Seattle, Hong-Kong, Thailand, and British Guyana on the trail of the missing money. Her encounters bring her deep into a culture of fast deals, corrupt law enforcers and the way of life of the Thai katoeys. The storyline has sufficient detail to capture the essence of each port of call to make it exciting and captivating without side tracking the main plot.

The second half of the book picks up a notch when we learn Ava is not your ordinary accountant she can also hold her own with tough kung-fu moves in a world where physical intimidation rules.
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