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.