The Water Rat of Wanchai (Ava Lee Series #1)

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Overview

AVA LEE TAKES ON A MASTER CRIMINAL IN HER MOST DANGEROUS CASE YET

In Ian Hamilton's The Water Rat of Wanchai, we meet forensic accountant and martial arts expert Ava Lee in her early days working for the mysterious businessman Uncle as they track down large sums of money that have disappeared. One of Uncle's longtime 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 immediately is off on...

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The Water Rat of Wanchai: An Ava Lee Novel

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Overview

AVA LEE TAKES ON A MASTER CRIMINAL IN HER MOST DANGEROUS CASE YET

In Ian Hamilton's The Water Rat of Wanchai, we meet forensic accountant and martial arts expert Ava Lee in her early days working for the mysterious businessman Uncle as they track down large sums of money that have disappeared. One of Uncle's longtime 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 immediately is off on a global hunt for the missing money that has her dodging shady characters.

On a journey that takes her from Seattle to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Guyana, and the British Virgin Islands, Ava encounters everything from the Thai katoey culture to corrupt government officials. In Guyana she meets her match: Captain Robbins, a godfather-like figure who controls the police, politicians, and criminals alike. In exchange for his help, Robbins decides he wants a piece of Ava's five million dollars and will do whatever it takes to get his fair share.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/10/2014
American fans of Ava Lee, a Toronto-based forensic accountant who specializes in finding and recovering missing money, will welcome Hamilton’s first in the series, whose publication in the U.S. follows that of the fourth entry, 2013’s The Red Pole of Macau. When her Chinese business partner, Uncle, asks her to help a friend’s nephew, who has lost $5 million to an unscrupulous seafood distributor, Ava embarks on a multicountry quest to track the funds. She travels to Hong Kong, where the deal originated, then follows the money trail to Bangkok and Georgetown, Guyana. In the seedy South American capital, she bribes Captain Robbins—the de facto power behind the government, military, law enforcement, and the criminal underworld—to help her reclaim the money from Jackson Seto, who masterminded the seafood scam. Despite a somewhat anticlimactic ending, this is an enjoyable romp with a feisty, ingenious heroine whose lethal martial arts skills are as formidable as her keen mind. Agent: Gillian Fizet, House of Anansi (Canada). (May)
From the Publisher
Praise for the Ava Lee Novels:

“Cutting edge crime novels.”—BBC.com

“Hamilton makes each page crackle with the kind of energy that could easily jump to the movie screen.”—Rachel Kramer Bussel, Penthouse

“Formidable...Ava Lee is unbeatable at just about everything....She’s perfect.”—The Toronto Star

“Ian Hamilton really knows his stuff, offering intriguing insights into a secret world and a heroine as fascinating as she is fierce. A fantastic read, I can’t wait for the next one.”—Simon Lewis, author of Bad Traffic

“Slick, fast-moving escapism reminiscent of Ian Fleming.”—Booklis

BBC.com

Cutting edge crime novels.
Penthouse Rachel Kramer Bussel

Hamilton makes each page crackle with the kind of energy that could easily jump to the movie screen.
The Toronto Star

"Formidable...Ava Lee is unbeatable at just about everything....She's perfect."
From the Publisher
Praise for the Ava Lee Novels

“Hamilton makes each page crackle with the kind of energy that could easily jump to the movie screen.”—Rachel Kramer Bussel, Penthouse

“Formidable...Ava Lee is unbeatable at just about everything....She’s perfect.”—The Toronto Star

“Ian Hamilton really knows his stuff, offering intriguing insights into a secret world and a heroine as fascinating as she is fierce. A fantastic read, I can’t wait for the next one.”—Simon Lewis, author of Bad Traffic

“Slick, fast-moving escapism reminiscent of Ian Fleming.”—Booklist

Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-03
A prequel to the Ava Lee series takes the jet-setting accountant into foreign lands and considerable danger. When Ava, a Toronto-based forensic accountant, gets a referral from her elderly business partner, she hesitates to take the case. Should she help Andrew Tam recover a $5 million investment in a seafood company that has disappeared along with unpaid money and unreleased inventory? Although she's so loyal to her partner that she gives him the courtesy title Uncle, Ava is also shrewd, objective and cautious about signing up for the job until she's done her homework about Seafood Partners. By the time Ava locates the money through a clever deception, she's also learned more than she ever dreamed she would about the shrimp industry. Satisfied that the money, if not the shrimp, is retrievable, she travels to Hong Kong and Bangkok to track down the two scamming partners. Much of her initial work is a waiting game that leaves her time to shop, work out and order food, until she blackmails the less-important conspirator into giving up the location of his partner, Jackson Seto. When Ava follows Seto to his bolt-hole in Guyana, she encounters levels of power and corruption she hadn't anticipated. But the adversaries who dismiss her as a fragile Chinese doll find out how much they've misjudged her and underestimate how far she'll go to honor her commitment to Uncle and her client. Hamilton (The Red Pole of Macau,2013, etc.) is as methodical as his cool-headed heroine in laying the groundwork for this adventure tale—too methodical, since it takes nearly half the book for Ava to hit her stride. Once she does, buyer beware this elegantly ruthless debt collector.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250032270
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Series: Ava Lee Series , #1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,430,570
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ian Hamilton has been a journalist, a diplomat, and traveled the world as a businessman. He is the author of three previous books in the Ava Lee series, The Disciple of Las Vegas, The Wild Beasts of Wuhan, and The Red Pole of Macau. He lives in Burlington, Ontario, with his wife.

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Read an Excerpt

(1)

 

 

When the phone rang, Ava woke with a start. She looked at the bedside clock. It was just past 3 a.m. “Shit,” she said softly. She checked the incoming number. It was blocked. Hong Kong? Shenzhen? Shanghai? Or maybe even Manila or Jakarta, where the Chinese hid behind local names and were often all the more Chinese because of it. Wherever the call originated, Ava was sure it was somewhere in Asia, the caller ignorant about the time difference or just too desperate to care.

Wei, Ava Lee,” a male voice said in Cantonese. It was a voice she didn’t recognize.

“Who is calling?” she said in his dialect.

“Andrew Tam.”

It took a second for the name to register. “Can you speak English?”

“Yes, I can,” he said, switching. “I went to school in Canada.”

“Then you should know what time it is here,” she said.

“I’m sorry. Mr. Chow gave your name and number to my uncle and told him I could call you anytime. He also said you speak Mandarin and Cantonese.”

Ava rolled onto her back. “I do, but when it comes to business, I prefer English. There’s less chance of confusion, of misunderstanding from my end.”

“We have a job for you,” Tam said abruptly.

“We?”

“My company. Mr. Chow told my uncle he was going to discuss it with you.” Tam paused. “You are a forensic accountant, I’m told.”

“I am.”

“According to what Mr. Chow told my uncle, you have an amazing talent for finding people and money. Well, my money is missing and the person who took it has disappeared.”

“That is rarely a coincidence,” Ava said, letting the compliment slide.

“Ms. Lee, I really need your help,” Tam said, his voice breaking.

“I need more information before I can say yes. I don’t even know where or what the job is.”

“It’s a bit of a moving target. We’re based in Hong Kong and we were financing a company owned by a Chinese, which has offices in Hong Kong and Seattle and was doing production in Thailand for a U.S. food retailer.”

“That isn’t very helpful.”

“Sorry, I don’t mean to be so vague. I’m actually better organized than I sound; it’s just that the stress right now is —”

“I understand about the stress,” Ava said.

Tam drew a deep breath. “After talking to my uncle about your company yesterday, I forwarded a complete package of information to a family member who lives in Toronto. Could you free yourself later today to meet?”

“In Toronto?” It was an oddity for her work to involve her home country, let alone city.

“Of course.”

“When?”

“How about dinner in Chinatown?”

“I would prefer something earlier. Dim sum, maybe.”

“All right, I’m sure dim sum will be fine.”

“And not in the old Chinatown downtown. I’d rather go to Richmond Hill. There’s a restaurant, Lucky Season, in the Times Square Mall, just west of Leslie Street on Highway 7. Do you know the area?”

“Yes, I do, generally speaking.”

“Tell them to meet me there at one.”

“How will they recognize you?”

“I will recognize them. Tell them to wear something red — a shirt or sweater — and to carry a copy of Sing Tao.”

“Okay.”

“Man or woman?”

“A woman, actually.”

“That’s unusual.”

He hesitated. She sensed that he was about to launch into another explanation, and she was about to cut him off when he said, “My uncle tells me that Mr. Chow is your uncle.”

“We’re not blood relatives,” Ava said. “I was raised traditionally. My mother insisted that we respect our elders, so it’s natural for me to call our older family friends Uncle and Auntie. Uncle isn’t a family friend, but from the very first time I met him it seemed appropriate. Even as my business partner he is still Uncle.”

“He’s a man whom very many people call Uncle.”

Ava knew where Tam was headed and decided to cut him off. “Look, I’ll meet with your contact later today. If I’m happy with the information she brings and I think the job is doable, then I’ll call my uncle and we’ll confirm that we’re taking the job. If I’m not happy, then you won’t hear from me again. Bai, bai,” she said, putting down the phone.

She struggled to find sleep again as Tam’s voice, with its too familiar sound of desperation, lingered in her ears. She pushed it aside. Until she took possession of his problem, that’s all it was: his problem.

 

Copyright © 2011, 2014 by Ian Hamilton

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