Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Couturier of Milan

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

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

The Wild Beasts of Wuhan

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

Disciple of Las Vegas

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.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Water Rat of Wanchai

Ava Lee #1: “The Water Rat of Wanchai” by Ian Hamilton. Ava Lee is assigned to track down five million dollars cheated from a relative of Uncle’s friend in a fish scam. The trail is easy to follow, but the people in power that Ava must deal with are worse than the crooks, and are easily turned to murder. And their power stretches beyond their own locale. However, they’ve never met someone like Ava Lee, and Uncle’s worldwide connections might prove even more powerful than world dictators.


Although the numbering system appears messed up, this is the first novel in the series. Ava has partnered with Uncle now for over ten years, and their bond is totally Chinese. The author’s writing style is smooth, and the story flows swiftly, even if the trail seems slow. 400 pages seem more like 200 pages, making for a fast read. The characters come alive, though at times it appears Ava finds the culprits and money a bit too easily; it’s the retrieval of the money that can cause problems for her. Thankfully, there isn’t page after page of martial arts, but when the need arises Ava employs bac mai with lethal force. Highly recommended for fans of interesting female leads.