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The Water Rat of Wanchai [Paperback]

Ian Hamilton
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 24 2011 An Ava Lee Novel
Book One of the Ava Lee Novels. 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 million owed by a seafood company. But it's in Guyana where she meets her match: Captain Robbins, a huge hulk of a man and godfather-like figure who controls the police, politicians, and criminals alike. In exchange for his help, he decides he wants a piece of Ava's $5 million action and will do whatever it takes to get his fair share...

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The Water Rat of Wanchai + The Disciple of Las Vegas + The Wild Beasts Of Wuhan
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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

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can hardly wait for the next book!! Feb. 14 2011
By bjb
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
3.0 out of 5 stars a page turner Sept. 30 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A page turner with the protagonist a forensic accountant? Yup... Somehow this actually works. The story starts off a bit on the slow side. The author goes to great lengths to describe locations / settings, at times making the writing a bit self-conscious if not contrived. There are also details to Ava Lee (main character) that are very interesting but have no pay-off in the storytelling. Rather, these facts are left dangling. Perhaps the pay-off is in one of the other novels in the series? If not, it begs the question "why?". The author also tends to repeat some literary suspense "tricks" (the phone that almost goes to voicemail before it is picked up). Eventually, the plot pace picks up and the energy of the story is quite invigorating. All in all a fine read for the cottage or rainy days.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Oriental Mind at Work! May 8 2011
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
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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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointing Dec 7 2011
Before I put this one in the recycling bin I feel it necessary to leave a counterbalancing review to all the accolades that encouraged me to buy the book in the first place. My rule of thumb has always been to read 50 or 100 pages before deciding whether or not reading further is worth my time. I managed to get through 91 pages of 'The Water Rat of Wanchai' before I could stand no more.

The idea of a clever thriller about forensic accounting was a good one. Unfortunately, the book itself appears to have been written by an accountant. If your idea of acceptable descriptive phrasing allows for nothing more than name dropping expensive brand products then you may like this. If you enjoy reading about a character who is so flat and uninspired that she makes the term two dimensional sound positive you may like Ava. Why take my word for it when I can give you an example from page 53:

"Ava travelled light. It took her less than half an hour to pack her Louis Vuitton monogrammed suitcase and her 'Shanghai Tang Double Happiness' bag. The suitcase was where she packed her business look: black linen slacks, a pencil skirt, Cole Hahn black leather pumps, two sets of black bras and panties, and three Brooks Brothers shirts in powder blue, pink, and white - one with a button down collar, the other two with modified Italian collars, and all of them with French cuffs. She chose a small jewelry case to hold her Cartier Tank Francaise watch, a set of green jade cufflinks, and a simple gold crucifix. She then went through the leather pouch that held her collection of of clasps, pins, barrettes, headbands, and combs and took out an ivory chignon pin she especially loved, adding it to the jewelry case. Ava wore her hair up nearly all the time and like to accentuate it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Novel, A Lengthy Ad, or A Fairy Tale? April 18 2013
By Lynn
Format:Kindle Edition
I've read all four books in the same series by Ian Hamilton. Fortunately they were all donation of a friend (who regretted her purchases). I think I should write something to warn those who might be on the verge of buying the book.

First of all, if you're curious about this Ava Lee adventure and really want to give it a read, buy one of the books in the series and that's it. That's enough. There's no need to read all of them as each of them follows the exact same pattern and is filled with 50% of recycled information on Ava Lee's background, her liking in clothing, why she prefers the Mandarin hotel, her choice of dim sum, her relationship with her family and 'Uncle', and her habit of jogging and shower afterwards, etc.

Second of all, if you're not a fan of product placements, do not even bother to read any of these books. 20% of the contents in each book are repetitive mention of brand names. Brooks Brother' shirts, Shanghai Tang Double Happiness bag, Chanel bag, Cartier watch, Giordano T-shirt, Adidas track pants, Starbucks VIA instant coffee etc. Note that these names do not just appear once or twice, they literally show up in every other several paragraphs! (Did those brands sponsor the author for the book writing or what?)

Third of all, if you're looking forward to a fast paced thriller, these Ava Lee books are not the one for you, as 70% of the book were exposition and other unnecessary stuff. You'll find yourself spending most of your time reading about Ava Lee's life in slow motion, and repetitively. Pretty much in EVERY chapter you'll read about she takes a walk or goes jogging, and then gets into a shower, and then puts on a clean bra and clean panties, and then her favourite Giordano T-shirt and Adidas track pants, and then...No Kidding!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series !
Great, as is the whole series !
Published 17 days ago by BookReviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars I disagree with the reviews about product placement, etc.
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 more
Published 1 month ago by noirgirl
1.0 out of 5 stars Painful
I can't imagine how vacuous you have to be to not mind the incessant product placement. It continually stops the flow of the story as does much of the detail about where she is. Read more
Published 3 months ago by M. Jamieson
5.0 out of 5 stars Ava Lee is a force to be reckoned with
Ian Hamilton is an excellent writer. His characters and locales come alive. It helps, I guess, that I am familiar for various reasons with the locales in this book. Read more
Published 11 months ago by kiwira
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story!
This is a book you can't put down once you start. I will read more in this series for sure!
Published 13 months ago by Sherry Galesloot
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 star book
Great read. Ava Lee is a great character and she gets better with every book. I am looking forward t the next book in the series. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Vicki Clements
4.0 out of 5 stars A quick read, some interesting s twists.
I found that the book kept my attention and avoided being predictable. A sexy girl with no sex was hidden but never did surface. Quite brutal this tough lady.
Published 15 months ago by Doug Hathaway
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting new suspense character to follow
Interesting concept - trouble shooting forensic accountant hunting for the money and getting the bad guys. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Ken Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Ava Lee is the most Awesome Action Hero
When I first received this book, I skimmed the back and saw forensic accountant and shipping firm and promptly put it on my bookshelf. Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2011 by Heather Pearson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great protagonist in Ava Lee
Ian Hamilton has blown away Steig Larsson with his protagonist Ava Lee. You will love the Ava Lee character; grit, intelligence, and courage are but a few of her traits. Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2011 by jacksprat
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