The Wild Beasts of Wuhan (2012) – Ian Hamilton

 

The Wild Beasts of Wuhan is the next novel in the Ava Lee series by Ian Hamilton, and once again, I am flying through this entire series. Very shortly I imagine I will be emailing everyone I can to beg and plead for the next book, after I’m during those that are currently published.

Ava, a forensic accountant and debt collector, and Uncle are contacted by an old friend of Uncle’s about two months after the events of the previous novel. Since the last book, Ava has had a relationship develop with Maria, set up by her best friend Mimi, the seeds of which were planted in the previous novel, and the story opens with her on a cruise with her father, mother, sister, and her sister’s family, the seeds of which were also put into play in the previous novel.

When Uncle calls her to offer her an assignment, she’s dubious at first, but as it is an old associate of Uncle’s from his time in Wuhan, she agrees to at least meet with the potential client and hear them out. It seems that the Wongs have been fooled by a series of forged paintings, to the tune of over $70 million. Mr. Wong is livid and wants to exact vengeance as much as he wants his money back, Ava isn’t comfortable with that, and seems reticent to take the case.

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When she chats with the wife, May Ling, a smart and brilliant woman, possibly Ava’s equal, she is persuaded to at least take an initial look at the case. Diving into a world she doesn’t know as much about, art, painting and forgery, she travels from Hong Kong to Iceland to England to Ireland to New York, following the trail of money, and hoping to get clear of the case sooner rather than later.

Hamilton continues to drive his story at a lightning pace, as Ava hops continents, pursuing her prey, filling his plot with sharp details to enhance the moments and descriptions, and he also continues to set-up future events by introducing story threads that will pay off in the next book, I’m sure.

I love her dogged relentlessness in chasing down the money, and the way the reveals and villains are revealed, and the ending on this one is one of my favorites so far, also setting up things that are to follow no doubt.

Hamilton has crafted a fine character in Ava Lee, and with each new novel, reveals yet another layer to her character, she grows in depth with each new adventure, and each of them so far have been in the span of about 6 months, this poor woman is going to need a long vacation in the very near future.

If you hadn’t read this series yet, I can’t recommend them enough, they are pure adrenaline filled enjoyment! Sharply written, fantastically paced, and with a resourceful and tough heroine… AWESOME!

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