Ava Lee #5: “The Scottish Banker of Surabaya” by Ian Hamilton. Ava’s mother talks her into meeting with a Canadian Vietnamese girl who claims to have lost a lot of money. She doesn’t want to, but to please her mother she talks with the girl and learns that the Vietnamese community invested thirty million dollars in a bank that might be a scam. Speaking with Uncle he advises they accept the job, with their usual 30% fee. Unfortunately, in her early investigation she uncovers Italian mobsters involved, and this poses problems for them. However, Uncle sees a way to get their money without the Mafia discovering their involvement, so Ava continues. Besides, by this time she wants to punish the Scottish banker for a personal reason. As usual, the novel is smooth reading, and keeps the reader turning pages to the end.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Friday, October 20, 2017
Ava Lee #8: “The Princeling of Nanjing” by Ian Hamilton. Ava Lee is with May Ling and Amanda, her partners in the Three Sisters business in Shanghai, as they start their clothing business. Their benefactor, Xu is on hand, but he reveals that a powerful Chinese family is forcing him into the drug business, and they won’t take no for an answer. He is truly between a rock and a hard spot. Drugs are a business he doesn’t want in, and if he says no they could destroy him. Although he doesn’t ask Ava for help, she feels obligated to look into the family’s financial dealings. What she finds is proof of bribes and illegal money laundering, something that might look bad within the other Chinese power structures. She begins following the money, and things get more complicated when the head of the family discovers who is doing it.
The writing continues to be smooth and topnotch. The story is character driven, and the characters actually become part of the reader. We feel a kinship to Ava, May Ling, Amanda, Xu, Sonny, Suen, and everyone involved. They are like our own family.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Ava Lee #9: The Couturier of Milan by Ian Hamilton. Ava Lee and her Three Sisters team are in London promoting their new fashion company, PO, and really bring the house down. Afterwards, The fashion king of Italy, Dominic Ventola, asks Ava and her partners to meet with them in Milan. At the meeting Ventola offers to buy 51 percent interest in the company, taking control of PO, but they refuse. A few days later, Ventola releases a statement to the press that PO is an inferior product, and causes a loss in all their sales and connections to Europe and America. Ava strikes back, stopping VLG’s purchasing and shipments in and out of Asia. Then the battle escalates when Ventola brings in his Mafia partners, and a contract is put out on Ava and May Ling. Ava is left with no other course than to bring Xu, the leader of the Triads in for help.
This was another enjoyable read. However, there is little action in it. Thankfully, the author’s writing kept me involved in the story. Although I wasn’t interested in the fashion industry, the author goes into detail about the fake products and knock-offs being produced in Asia, and then sent to companies in Europe where brand names are placed on the product, offering cheap imitations of the brand names. It was fascinating watching Ava work her magic in bringing the large Italian corporation and Mafia to her way of thinking, and the characters are truly memorable, but the story could have used more action this time.
Friday, October 6, 2017
Chen, the leader of a small band of terrorists known as the LASP (the Liberation Army of the Singapore People) robs an army munitions depot, then Chen secretly dumps the weapons in the sea, except for an Armalite sniper rifle. Then he abducts two British nationals to hold for ransom, with certain stipulations. Chief Inspector Harry Chew is brought in to head the investigation, while the Britain sends a team of British SAS commandos consisting of two men, Captain Mark Fairclough and Sergeant Pete Smith.
This is a nob-stop action similar to the author’s previous book, RIDE A CROOKED RICKSHAW, and, again, with memorable characters. Chen is smart and deadly, but seems not to care what happens to his team, as many of them die from their own mistakes. In fact, we’re not sure if Chen plains on failing himself, but the police team are always a step or two behind him, never getting close before he’s gone again. Nor do they figure out the reason for the missing sniper rifle until too late. The author knows how to build tension, while his characters respond like real people, not just names on paper. Even thought RIDE A CROOKED RICKSHAW is still my favorite book by this author, I highly recommend CHEN as a fascinating international action mystery.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Ava Lee #3: “The Wild Beasts of Wuhan” by Ian Hamilton. In Book #3 of this fascinating series, Ava Lee, a young Canadian-Chinese forensic accountant works at recovering money stolen. In this case, a wealthy Chinese gentleman from Wuhan, China has been swindled out of 73 million dollars in fake art masterpieces called Fauvist art, which is wild colors also known as wild beasts. She’s not sure the money can be found, due to the matter of time that has passed since the purchase, and the man who brokered the deal has died and his records destroyed, but she promises to look into it for a few days, and if leads look promising she’ll have Uncle offer a contract from Hong Kong. Her trail takes her to Denmark, Iceland, London, and New York. Once she discovers the evidence to proceed, she starts working to bring the money back to their clients, only to have the clients decide on vengeance instead.
This was another fascinating story featuring the martial arts expert of bac mai, and the method of her trail to the final source of her investigation. The characters come alive, and Ava Lee is a force to be reckoned with. Highly recommended.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Ava Lee #2: The Disciple of Las Vegas by Ian Hamilton. Ava Lee lives in Canada, and is a forensic accountant and detective. She has teemed with an older Chinese man in Hong Kong, she calls Uncle. Uncle has the contacts, and Ava has the investigative ability to run crooks down. They hire out to clients who have lost great sums of money, and Ava knows how to get the money back for them, and their percentage is taken from the amount she recovers. A martial artist, she is often called upon her ability to defend herself against some violent people.
In this second story, and I might say there is some confusion to the numbering system of the series, Tommy Ordonez, of the Philippines Chinese organization, has lost sixty million dollars due to his brother’s gambling problems. Ava discovers that an online gambling group cheated the brother. Connections lead her to Las Vegas and London. As she follows the leads, she is also alert to a death-contract placed on her by man from a previous case.
The case moves slowly, and everything seems to fall into her grasp with little effort, though the story is interesting and keeps the reader turning the pages. Ava is not timid in the use of torture to gets what she wants. She will ask nicely, but if they refuse to cooperate, she will result to torture, and it isn’t pretty. Overall, I found the story and characters highly interested. Although the main character is gay, there are no sexual scenes in the story. Highly recommended, just be aware of some torture scenes.