Earl Norman

The Earl Norman books are becoming extremely rare, and publishers don’t seem to be interested in reprinting the series. The only way some of us may ever have all the stories is for collectors to scan and type the stories into PDF to swap with other collectors. I have already completed PDFs of HANG ME IN HONG KONG and KILL ME IN ROPPONGI. I am working on KILL ME IN YOKOSUKA. If other collectors would do the same for some of the other books, we could eventually have PDFs of all ten books. Why not help? I can be contacted at fadingshadows40@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Fate (Mystery)
By Ian Hamilton
House of Anansi Press
ISBN #978-1487003869
Price $15.95 (Paperback)
Price $9.99 (Kindle
304 Pages
Rating 3-Stars


This is the story of Chow Tung, known to friends as “Uncle”, a form of respect, though he’s still a fairly young man in his thirties.  His position in the Fanling triads is that of White Paper Fan because he’s good with numbers. It chronicles his escape from communist China to Hong Kong, then jumps ahead a decade when the Mountain Master of the Fanling triads is killed by a hit & run driver, leaving their leadership vacant. Basically the story follows the trouble of electing a new leader. How boring can you get?

Readers of Ian Hamilton have been familiar with Uncle through the Ava Lee series, about a Chinese/Canadian girl who follows the money in crooked deals leaving someone needing her help. One of her cases came to the attention of Uncle, and he uses his power to assist her. The early stories of Ava Lee were topnotch and interesting mysteries. But the last couple of Ava Lee stories were below par for the author, and left the reader less satisfied in her, and for some reason the author has decided to feature Uncle in his own stories. Unfortunately, this first entry was boring. We’re talking triads, and criminal gangs in Hong Kong, so you would think there’d be lots of action. There isn’t.  When there is action, there’s really no tension in the setting. We do learn the command structure of the triads, and even an overly long funeral for one of the leaders. We know from the beginning that Uncle will end up as the new Mountain Master, even though he’s trying to put someone else in the office. It’s Uncle that sees the problems and sets things on the right course, so he’s already performing as their leader. If you’re interested in the structure of the triad gangsters, this book will help you. Although I would suggest you read the early Ava Lee stories for that. If you’re looking for a good action novel, it isn’t here. Again, those early Ava Lee entries are your best bet.

Tom Johnson


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