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The Wild Beasts of Wuhan (Hardcover)
While I'm still grumpy about the first book in Ian Hamilton's "Ava Lee" series still not being available in the US, that did not stop me from diving right into The Wild Beasts of Wuhan, which follows immediately after The Disciple of Las Vegas.
Ava Lee is on a Caribbean cruise with her unusual family, and things are tense. What seemed like a good idea has resulted in building family tension, so when Ava gets a call from Uncle, asking her to meet with Wong Changxing, known as the Emperor of Hubei, she's more than willing to ditch the cruise, provided her father agrees, which he does. It turns out that Wong has purchased some Fauvist art (and I had no idea what it was, but that's where you get the "wild beast" moniker), and has just discovered that much of it may be forgeries, to the tune of $73 million. Wong wants vengeance for this betrayal, but neither Ava nor Uncle are willing to participate.
However, Ava agrees -- provisionally -- to look into retrieving the money. She's not optimistic; the paintings were purchased over the span of a decade, and the dealer who brokered the sales has died, and all of his paperwork has been destroyed. Still, she's willing to do her best, if Wong's second wife, May Ling, can talk him out of revenge.
Once again, Ava ends up trotting the globe, searching for bits and pieces of information that might lead her to the forger or forgers, and possibly to the people behind the fraud. But she also has to face the fact that she might be hiding from her personal life by pursuing this job. Her new girlfriend, Maria, is pushing for a deeper commitment, her best friend Mimi is thinking of moving in with her boyfriend Derek, and Ava's half-brother wants to get to know her better. No wonder Ava is concentrating on tracking down art forgers!
Ian Hamilton helps those of us who are Westerners navigate the complexities of Asian culture with a deft hand and a matter-of-fact presentation that makes the strangest concepts understandable. I'm thinking of the marriage structure he presents in his books, specifically, but there are other, more subtle concepts that he manages with ease. And I'm completely hooked on Ava. Her attitudes, her weaknesses and strengths, her understated ruthlessness all keep me on the edge of my seat, and I can't wait for the next in the series (even while I still want to track down a copy of The Water Rat of Wanchai). The Wild Beasts of Wuhan is a fast, easy and intriguing book, and I was pleased to jump into Ava Lee's world again.— Fran
"Formidable...Ava Lee is unbeatable at just about everything....She's perfect." "Toronto Star"
""Meet Ava Lee, alluring but deadly, with a mind like a steel trap, as she chases millions of dollars and dangerous criminals around the globe in this exotic and fast-paced new crime series by Ian Hamilton.
In "The Wild Beasts of Wuhan," Wong Changxing, a rich Chinese powerbroker, has just been bilked out of $100 million in an elaborate art forgery con. His one hope of recovering the money, and of saving face, is Ava Lee a forensic accountant with a talent for tracking down untraceable funds. With the help of her mentor, the Triad-connected Uncle, Ava traces the provenance of the meticulously forged paintings to Denmark, the Faroe Islands, New York, and London. As she infiltrates one of the most prestigious auction houses in the world, she uncovers a massive web of corruption, where high art and high-stakes fraud threaten more than just her client's business this is one scam that could get her killed. Ava Lee is one of the most scintillating, unique heroines to come along in years.
About the Author
Ian Hamilton has had a range of careers over the span of his life, from journalist to diplomat, but it wasn't until a health scare that he sat down to write his first novel. Ava Lee was the heroine that came to him and so the series was born. Hamilton's journalism has been featured in "Maclean's" and "Saturday Night" "Magazine." He is the author of "The Disciple of Las Vegas," "The Wild Beasts of Wuhan," "The Red Pole of Macau," and "The Water Rat of Wanchai." He lives in Burlington, Ontario, with his wife, Lorraine. He has four children and seven grandchildren.
“With its exotic settings (from Asia to America and places in between) and its equally exotic investigator, this book is miles from the ordinary. The main character, Ava Lee is the 'whole package.'”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“An intelligent kick-ass heroine....Clearly conversant with the art world, Hamilton makes the intricacies of forgery as interesting as a Ponzi scheme.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“You haven't seen cold and calculating until you've double-crossed this number cruncher. Another strong entry from Arthur Ellis Award-winner Hamilton.”—Booklist
“One of my favorite new mystery series, perfect escapism.”—Sarah Weinman, National Post
“Ava Lee is tough, fearless, quirky, and resourceful, and she has more—well, you know—than half a dozen male detectives I can think of.”—Linwood Barclay, author of No Time for Goodbye
“Ian Hamilton really knows his stuff, offering intriguing insights into a secret world and a heroine as fascinating as she is fierce. A fantastic read, I can’t wait for the next one.”—Simon Lewis, author of Bad Traffic