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The Water Rat of Wanchai: An Ava Lee Novel Paperback – May 6, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This is the eighth in the Ava Lee series, each novel of which offers a heady blend of exotic locales, foodie tips, biff-boff action, and a heroine with keen deduction, considerable skills in the martial art of bak mei, and a well-connected mentor. Ava is Chinese Canadian, based in Toronto, and works as a forensic accountant. She uses her skills in both accounting and interviewing to trace and retrieve money that has gone missing or has strayed from its rightful owners. She is sort of a cross between James Bond and Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski. The latest is a prequel to the other novels, showing the roots of Ava Lee’s international work at the behest of her “Uncle” (in the Chinese sense of a nonrelated mentor), who asks Ava to find $5 million for the nephew of a friend. Others are after the money, too, of course, and the action zooms from Toronto to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Guyana, and the British Virgin Islands, from five-star hotels to back alleys. Terrific fun. --Connie Fletcher

Review

“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

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Product Details

  • Series: An Ava Lee Novel (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 125003227X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250032270
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
A forensic accountant is an unlikely thriller hero, but Ava Lee is an unlikely forensic accountant. Ava is a Chinese-Canadian who is as adept with martial arts as she is with a calculator. She's more of a debt collector/skip-tracer than she is an accountant. This is, however, a big league version of debt collection.

Ava's current task is the collection of $5 million stolen from a company that financed a seafood supplier. Her travels take her to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Trinidad, Guyana, and the British Virgin Islands. None of the locales gave me the sense of seeing anything that a tourist wouldn't see, but I did get the impression that Ian Hamilton has actually been to those places. A resident's view of the countries is unnecessary as Ava has a tourist's perspective, including an obsessive concern with the amenities available at hotels, as well as their star ratings. Needless to say, Guyana disappoints her. That crime-ridden location nevertheless gives her a chance to show off her formidable fighting skills. At the same time, the story's violence is kept to a necessary minimum. This is more of a cerebral thriller than an action novel, although the action moves at a brisk pace.

Ava is my kind of thriller hero. She's intelligent, resourceful, cunning, a woman of action who thinks before she acts. She gets things done and doesn't monkey around on her way to her goal. Much the same can be said of Hamilton, who writes with certitude, reaching his goal with a minimum of fuss. This is a tightly constructed story that doesn't waste a word. That is a skill that has become increasingly rare among modern thriller writers. The story avoids overreaching and is easy to believe, another rarity in modern thrillers.
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Format: Paperback
Okay, I was already familiar with the term "forensic accounting" but for the life of me I can't remember if it was from a movie or a book but at least I knew it meant the tracing of money, usually huge amounts of money which weren't where they were supposed to be. This seems like a good premise for a story or series of stories. I pictured it like an inter-connected web of financial institutions used to hide money by clever people.

Ava Lee is a clever, attractive, Canadian accountant who through several twists and turns of her life has become partners with Uncle Chow who lives in Hong Kong. Their business is to recover monies due their customers using whatever means necessary. The debts are all legitimate but the means to the end, may not be.

Completely enjoyable read with a kickass protagonist who begins by using her brains first but if that doesn't work she isn't afraid to get deadly. You will find yourself liking and rooting for Ava to beat the bad guys at their own game. There are several twists to the story that make it just that much better.
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Format: Paperback
So, here's the thing. I sort of loved this book. It really 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 when I honestly felt like I was reading a book about a Chinese-Canadian lesbian forensic panty accountant, brought to you by Starbucks.

OH! Also, it's kind of hilarious how proud the main character seems of being able to remember what time it is somewhere else in the world when making phone calls. But, I enjoyed the book otherwise, and eventually these quirks were just a funny running joke rather than an annoyance. In the final chapter, the author manages to mention both panties and Starbucks VIA instant coffee within the same couple paragraphs.

I bet he wrote that page and then sat back and just smiled to himself. "I've done it," he probably thought. "I've written the perfect page."
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The Water Rat of Wanchai: An Ava Lee Novel
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