The Water Rat of Wanchai is the god-awful title of a pretty decent financial thriller. This is the first in the Ava Lee series by Ian Hamilton. The second and much better titled, The Disciple of Las Vegas, is scheduled for July 2011. This first one is good enough to make a reader look forward to the second but it better be tighter.
Ava Lee is a thirty something forensic accountant who lives in Toronto. She works for a mysterious Hong Kong businessman known simply as Uncle. People who have been defrauded hire Uncle and Ava to find their missing funds in exchange for a commission. This is the case here.
The Water Rat of Wanchai has the main character travelling to Hong Kong, Thailand, British Guyana, and the British Virgin Island. First she is looking for the criminal (born under the sign of the water rat) and then going after the money. She encounters a few difficulties along the way.
Though Hamilton tells a good tale, has a very interesting main character, and certainly interests the reader with information about Chinese and Sino-Canadian culture and manners, The Water Rat of Wanchai spends a bit too much time chasing the bad guy and then getting to the missing funds.
If you appreciate strong female leads, are an accountant, or like thrillers with a travelogue this horribly titled financial thriller will entertain.
If you like books with an atrocious title AND cover, The Water Rat of Wanchai is a winner.