In Ian Hamilton’s The Water Rat of Wanchai, we meet forensic accountant and martial arts expert Ava Lee in her early days working for the mysterious businessman Uncle as they track down large sums of money that have disappeared. One of Uncle’s longtime friends has requested help for his nephew, who needs to recover five million dollars from a business deal that went sideways. Ava steps in and immediately is off on a global hunt for the missing money that has her dodging shady characters.
On a journey that takes her from Seattle to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Guyana, and the British Virgin Islands, Ava encounters everything from the Thai katoey culture to corrupt government officials. In Guyana she meets her match: Captain Robbins, a godfather-like figure who controls the police, politicians, and criminals alike. In exchange for his help, Robbins decides he wants a piece of Ava’s five million dollars and will do whatever it takes to get his fair share.
This character just grated on my nerves from the very first, and I’m not sure if it was the intention of the Author to make her dislikeable or was just the way things turned out in the end. She is rich, as we are constantly reminded whenever possible, only likes the best of everything and was an avid coffee drinker, like all the other characters in this novel. As a female lead character she is not the strong independent woman I was hoping for; the kind that inspires other women to reach their full potential. In fact she is quite the opposite, she comes out of the page as being some sort of superwoman that can do anything, have anyone and anything she likes. This in itself is not a bad thing, but the way in which she is written could possibly make her an intimidating character to those women readers who are not supremely confident in their own skin and lives and, in my opinion this is something no Author should do to their readers, make them feel less than they are. In an effort to make her interesting she is Chinese-Canadian, although how this could redeem her flaws I am still not sure.
The coffee company Starbucks was mentioned so many times in this book that I broke off to look and see if it had been published through some program they funded. Another disappointment, apart from the obviously brand push, was that there is actually very little forensic accounting in this book, and what small amount there is takes place in a whole 5 or 6 pages. Combine these points with flat and uninteresting language and you have a book that really does not deliver for me, and this is the reason behind by 2 thumbs rating.
Given that this is marketed as an international thriller, I failed to get the thrill from the book that was hinted at and, although a taste of each country visited in the storyline was given, it just wasn’t enough to make this a series I would want to read anymore of.