Saturday, April 15, 2017

The King of Shanghai

The seventh novel in the Ava Lee series finds Ava getting caught up in the election for the chairmanship of the Triad Societies.
Ava steps into her new business with May Ling Wong and her sister-in-law, Amanda. On a trip to Shanghai, Ava meets with Xu, a young man Uncle had been mentoring and who is also the head of the Triad in Shanghai. Xu makes an audacious business proposal that she and May are compelled to consider. Meanwhile, separately and privately, he confides to Ava that he intends to run for the chairmanship of the Triad Societies and attempts to recruit her as his adviser and confidante.
Against her will, Ava becomes enmeshed in Triad warfare and her future is threatened . . .

The King of Shanghai (International Intrigue)
By Ian Hamilton
House of Anasi
ISBN #9781770892460
Price $10.84
388 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

Ava, May Ling, and Amanda are working hard to complete several deals with their new business, The Three Sisters, a few of the deals could cost them upwards of thirty million American dollars, and there are some problems completing the deals for all concerned. To add to Ava’s trouble, they are in Shanghai, where Xu runs the Yan Yee Tong, a powerful Triad organization consisting of over four thousand loyal members. Xu is also running for chairman of all the Triad groups, but is opposed by an older gentleman who wants to run them in the old way. Xu wants to bring youth to the organization, and expand his business. He also wants Ava to be part of the new organization. She is opposed to the idea until an assassin attempt is made on her and Xu, leaving him severely wounded. Now she helps hold the organization together while he recovers, and that means negotiating with the enemy before war breaks out among the Triads.

This was another great Ava Lee adventure, as she travels from Hong Kong to Shanghai, and Canada, while dealing with the new multi-million dollar business, plus diplomatically stopping a triad war.

Tom Johnson

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Two Sisters of Borneo

The Two Sisters of Borneo (International Intrigue)
By Ian Hamilton
House of Anansi Pr
ISBN #978-1770892446
Price $24.95
336 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“Smooth Writing.”

Ava Lee #6: “The Two Sisters of Borneo” by Ian Hamilton. While Ava is staying in Hong Kong caring for an ailing Uncle, she teams up with her sister-in-law Amanda Lee, and May Ling her close friend. With Uncle going to Shanghai with Sunny, Ava decides to the Netherlands to check on a situation facing their business while May Ling and Amanda head for Borneo to check on the problem there. The situation heats up when Amanda and one of the Borneo sisters are injured in an attack that may be the result of the problem they are investigating. Ava flies to Borneo to find the attackers, and contacts the head of the gangsters to buy the information, but she is taken prisoner, and the gangsters want a ransom. This brings trouble from Shanghai, and Uncle dies during his concern for Ava. And this move will eventually bring a new leader to the Triads, a man taking the seat of power once held by Uncle. This was another fantastic novel in the Ava Lee series. Even the funeral of Uncle is a worldwide event, as the Triads come to pay their respect to him and acknowledge Ava.

Tom Johnson


Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Red Pole of Macau

The Red Pole of Macau (Thriller)
An Ava Lee Novel #4
By Ian Hamilton
ISBN #978-1250032317
Price $15.00
336 Pages
Rating 5-stars

“Smooth Writing.”

Lok, once a Red Pole of the Triad, brought Ava’s half brother, Michael Lee and his partner Simon, into a land scam. Lok won’t return the money, so Ava must bring Lok and his men down the hard way. That means following the money, and calling in some favors where needed, then invading a tightly secured compound against well-armed gangsters before it’s all over.

This was another well-written novel featuring the forensic accountant trained in bak mei martial arts.  The writing is smooth, the plot deep and twisting, and the characters three-dimensional. Highly recommended for action lovers.

Tom Johnson


Monday, March 13, 2017

The Ninth Netsuke

Superintendent Tatsuo Otani #4:The Ninth Netsuke by James Melville. Manila murder victim, Cleo Ventura is found in the Sweet Harmony Room of the Fantasia hotel a notorious catering spot for prostitutes to take their clients. Although Superintendent Otani isn’t on the case, he still wants to check out the scene of the murder. As a disguise he takes his wife, Hanae with him for a supposed tryst. It’s Hanae that finds the 8th Greek Muse, a netsuke. The netsuke causes uproar within the political system due to its place a National Treasure. And someone else wants it very badly. Hanae discovers tiny marks on the 8th netsuke, and Otani visits the museum where he photographs the seven already among the museum’s collection. It’s a clue to something else, something valuable enough to kill for, maybe a treasure map. This was the first story in the series I’ve read, and it kept my interest. A Japanese murder mystery, perhaps better described as a cozy mystery, but with a good plot and characters. Oh, yeah, the ninth netsuke in the title? Hanae steals this from its hiding place at the end of the story, so we don’t actually see it until the final page.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trouble In Tokyo

Agent OSS 117 #9 (#60 in France): “Trouble In Tokyo” (French title “A Tout Coeur A Tokyo”) by Jean Bruce. Agent OSS 117 is American CIA agent, Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, stops in Tokyo after leaving Hong Kong, Sitting the Tokyo office of his company, the local boss asked him to wait while he interviews one of his secretaries. Eva Davidson has reported to her boss that a Japanese spy is blackmailing her to obtain secret information on the American military in Japan. His boss, Henry Babcock, wants secret agent Hubert to work on the case while he’s in Tokyo. It’s obvious that all his agents are known already, so Hubert should be able to uncover the spy. So pretending to be Eva Davidson’s husband just arrived from America, he tags along with her on supposed meetings. Unfortunately, everything seems to be going wrong. Well, really, this was a fun read, with an interesting plot and mystery. If we didn’t know it by his name, reading the story will quickly identify the author as French.  We read that he swims in the girl’s eyes; he kisses her fingers; licks her palms. He is a black belt in judo and karate, so we do get some martial arts in this yarn. The reader won’t have much problem tagging the killer and spy, and solving the case, something a good intelligence agent would do, if he wasn’t “swimming in the girl’s eyes” all the time. This Fawcett Crest edition was released in the U.S. in 1965, but the French edition was published in 1958, which means this novel takes place about the same time as Earl Norman’s “Kill Me In Tokyo”. Very odd, but I doubt if either author knew the other. The series ran for 255 issues in France, but only 16 were translated into English and published in the U.S. They were short and fast reads, as well as fun. A shame more were not released in English.