The Water Rat of Wanchai

The Water Rat of Wanchai

eBook - 2011
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Winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel

A CBC Bookie Award: Mystery and Thriller, Finalist

A Quill & Quire Book of the Year

An Editors' Pick

In the first electrifying book of the series, Ian Hamilton introduces us to Ava Lee -- the smartest, most stylish heroine in crime fiction since Lisbeth Salandar.

Ava Lee is a young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who works for an elderly Hong Kong-based "Uncle," who may or may not have ties to the Triads. At 115 lbs., she hardly seems a threat. But her razorsharp intellect and resourcefulness allows her to succeed where traditional methods have failed.

In The Water Rat of Wanchai, Ava travels across continents to track $5 million owed by a seafood company. But it's in Guyana where she meets her match: Captain Robbins, a huge hulk of a man and godfather-like figure who controls the police, politicians, and criminals alike. In exchange for his help, he decides he wants a piece of Ava's $5 million action and will do whatever it takes to get his fair share . . .

Publisher: Toronto : House of Anansi Press, 2011
ISBN: 9780887843358
Characteristics: 1 online resource (412 p.)


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Oct 05, 2013

Ava doesn't actually do any accounting, just some clever phone work, tracing stolen money through a couple of bank accounts. But it makes for a change, having a protagonist who isn't a cop, lawyer or reporter. Ava's martial arts skills are way over the top, bordering on superhero. Still, this is an entertaining thriller and I'll certainly read the next instalment in this series.

jokal Sep 14, 2012

the author builds tension beautifully without a lot of blood and gore. The protagonist is a young lesbian woman--well done for a male author. Excellent thriller.

May 15, 2012

A few pages into the book, I realized that Hamilton was badly in need of an Angela. Fans of the TV series Bones may remember that Temperance Brennan is portrayed as being an author of best-selling fiction. Tempe being Tempe, she is horrible at making her readers actually care about her characters. Enter her friend Angela who reads the early drafts and does that for her. Surely Hamilton knows someone who could do this for his Ava Lee books.

In The Disciple, this lack of dimensionality is especially important because the violence Ava is responsible for is horrific. I did not care that the people who were being beat-up, humiliated, and permanently disfigured were bad guys, especially when the only motive for the carnage was recovering big time bucks for Ava’s not very likeable client. If anyone wants to further develop their dislike for capitalism gone wild, this is the book for you.

I realized that this might not be the series for me when I started to wonder if Hamilton’s descriptions of far-away places had their roots in travel guides and Google Earth. This was slightly before I started to wonder if Ian Hamilton had any interest in this series beyond its side-deal money making capacity. I’m all for authors making a decent living writing books. Heck, I even want publishers, agents, book stores, and on-line retailers to make a buck, but the books should have some sort of worth beyond their ability to generate loads of money.

This is part of a blog post I wrote here:

Aug 02, 2011

Enjoyed the book, but got a little annoyed at the constant mention of her starbucks Via and taking off her Panties...Definetely felt like a man writing for a woman character.


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Feb 15, 2012

“people always do the right thing for the wrong reason.”

Feb 15, 2012

“organized corruption is always superior to corruption with no rules"

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