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The Water Rat of Wanchai

Written by Ian Hamilton

Series Title: An Ava Lee Novel

  • 424 Pages
  • 9780887842511
  • 8" x 5.25"
  • FICTION / Action & Adventure
  • FICTION / Mystery & Detective / Women Sleuths


Publication Date February 19, 2011

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 Amazon.ca 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 . . .

Winner of the Arthur Ellis Award: Best First Novel 2012

Selected for the Amazon.ca Best Books: Editors' Pick 2011

Selected for the Quill and Quire Book of the Year 2011

Short-listed for the CBC Bookie Awards: Mystery and Thriller 2012


Ian Hamilton
Ian Hamilton is the author of seven novels in the Ava Lee series: The Dragon Head of Hong Kong: The Ava Lee Prequel, The Water Rat of Wanchai, The Disciple of Las Vegas, The Wild Beasts of Wuhan, The Red Pole of Macau, The Scottish Banker of Surabaya, and The Two Sisters of Borneo. The Water Rat of Wanchai was the winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel, an Amazon.ca Top 100 Book of the Year, an Amazon.ca Top 100 Editors’ Pick, an Amazon.ca Canadian Pick, an Amazon.ca Mysteries and Thrillers Pick, a Toronto Star Top 5 Fiction Book of the Year, and a Quill & Quire Top 5 Fiction Book of the Year.


". . . a book about a forensic accountant that has tension, suspense and action. [. . .] When the central character looks like Lucy Liu, kicks like Jackie Chan and has a travel budget like Donald Trump, the story is anything but boring. [. . .] I look forward to the next one." Montreal Gazette

"If the other novels are half as good as this debut by Ian Hamilton, then readers are going to celebrate. [. . .] This is a terrific story that's certain to be on the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel list this year. Even better news is that the next three novels in the series are already written and ready to print. Ava Lee is going to be chasing the accounts for a long, long time." Globe and Mail

". . . one of the most engaging female leads I've had the pleasure of reading about in quite a while . . . an absolute page-turner that's difficult to put down." Inside Halton

"Ava is unbeatable at just about everything. Just wait for her to roll out her bak mei against the bad guys. She's perfect. She's fast." Toronto Star

"In the age of Lisbeth Salander, it's not hard to see why Hamilton's jet-setting heroine is so appealing." National Post

"Readers will discern in Ava undertones of Lisbeth Salandar, the ferocious protagonist of the late Stieg Larsson's crime novels . . . irresistible . . ." London Free Press

"The Water Rat of Wanchai delivers . . . [it] feels like the beginning of a crime-fighting saga . . . [a] great story told with colour, energy and unexpected punch." Hamilton Spectator

". . . enjoyable . . . [Ian Hamilton] creates a terrific atmosphere of suspense." Quill & Quire

"Few heroines are as feisty as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander, but Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee could give her a run for her money . . . Gripping . . . [Ava is] smart, gutsy, and resourceful." Stylist UK

""The desperate situations in The Water Rat of Wanchai are what keep the pages turning, but what will keep readers coming back to the series is Ava Lee."" Buried in Print Blog

""The Water Rat of Wanchai is a solid and exciting read and a great start to the series."" Editorial Eyes