The Red Pole of Macau (2012) – Ian Hamilton


Things get personal for Ava Lee in this, the next installment in Ian Hamilton’s highly addictive series. Following, once again, on seeds planted in the previous novel, or novels in this case, Ava finds herself in a brutal hunt for her family’s money, as she travels to Hong Kong and Macau to help her half-brother, Michael, recover his money from a land scam organized by some low-level, but still extremely dangerous triad members.

As it’s a personal affair, with her family’s entire future hanging in the balance, she doesn’t initially contact Uncle, her business partner in Hong Kong. As she works to keep her distance from her family, focussing only on the recovery of the money, things spin out of control; Michael’s business partner, Simon, is kidnapped, and held until Michael agrees to pay even more money. And speaking of personal, we get to hear about and check in with her various family members, as well as the happy and continuing relationship between her and Maria.

While Uncle seems to be happy to pull a few strings for her, once he’s informed, he also respects the need for her to do this on her own. That doesn’t stop him from cautioning her, as well as offering her any help she may need, including establishing contact with May Ling Wong, who caused Ava such problems in Wild Beasts of Wuhan. Uncle, however, sees the potential for a strong business relationship between the two and keeps pushing.

By the end of the book, Ava has done things she may regret, and it will no doubt haunt her for time to come.


This book, like the others so far in the series, is whip-smart, fantastically paced, and is all centered on a brilliant character that I have grown to care about over these novels. As I wander the same city she calls home, even some of the same streets she must travel along, I find myself thinking I could bump into her, and then I remember she’s not real. Ava continues to prove herself a remarkable creation, she’s smart, resourceful, but still can make mistakes, as well know when she needs to turn to others for help.

This time around she lays it all on the line for her family, and pays the price for it.

The Fleming-esque details are still there, and the engrossing, page-turning stories, have me ingesting this books as quickly as possible, and loving every moment I am spending in Ava’s company. This one is a bit of a different story for Ava, but having established her world, and her character, in the previous novels, it’s easy to follow her outside of her comfort zone, as she literally puts life, limb, and family at risk.

I love the way Hamilton creates his stories, and imbues them with a wonderful life of their own, I’ve yet to get to Hong Kong, or any place on that side of the world, but am happy to do so anytime Ava books a flight.

As we close in on the summer months, if you are looking for a series to read and relax with, I honestly cannot recommend this series enough, I’ve put all the other books I wanted to read (and its a growing pile) on hold, because I simply have to know what happens next (thank goodness that as I write this there are still two more books for me to get through!

Pick them up, you’ll love them!






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