"The Scottish Banker of Surabaya" by Ian Hamilton


Ava Lee is spending her summer recovering from her last investigation at a cottage north of Toronto.  She has no foreseeable plans to work, but when her mother introduces to her a woman whose family lost millions in a Ponzi scheme, she agrees to take on the easy case.  However, this case is anything but easy.  

Ava soon finds herself investigating an Indonesian bank run by a Scot.  After a troubling run with the Scot, she discovers that the bank is in reality a front for a money-laundering operation run by Italian mobsters.  Will Ava be able to successfully return the money to it's rightful owners or is she finally in over her head?

The Scottish Banker of Surabaya by Ian Hamilton is the fifth instalment in the Ava Lee series, but the first one I have read.  I must say, I'm hooked on this series.  It's not necessary to start at the beginning in the series and I imagine all of the books would stand alone no matter which order you read them in.  But I imagine you'll find it hard to read one and not want to read the rest.

Ava Lee is a character like no other.  She is Chinese-Canadian, living in upscale Toronto, and a lesbian.  She is tough, unafraid, skilled in martial-arts, and doesn't let anything stand in the way of what she wants.  As a forensic accountant, the crimes she investigates are finance-related but her investigations definitely aren't free from violence.  

This is an excellently written book.  In the beginning I found the descriptions of places to be a little tedious, but that's possibly because I'm very familiar with the places in Ontario that were described.  Other readers not familiar with the areas may appreciate how in depth Hamilton is in setting the scene.  Once Ava was on the trail of the criminals the book really drew me in.  The plot is detailed but the writing isn't convoluted which can be difficult to do.  It was easy to keep up with and suspense filled the pages.

The other books in the series have taken Ava all of the world, from her home in Toronto to locales such as Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Denmark, Guyana, Thailand, New York, and now Indonesia.  The rich experience of the location in the book is enough to make you want to pick it up, but when you do, you'll be drawn in to the crime worlds and won't want to put the book down until the investigation is over.  

If you are a crime fiction fan, then you will enjoy this book.  It is fast-paced, thrilling, and dangerous.  Ava Lee is an excellent investigator and strong and intricately developed enough to carry a series that will last for years to come. 


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