The Disciple of Las Vegas by Ian Hamilton (Jan. 2013, Picador)-Ava Lee is an accountant, but she’s probably not like any accountant you’ve ever met. When The Disciple of Las Vegas opens, Ava has just returned to Toronto from a job. No sooner has she settled in when she sees an email from Uncle in her inbox. She knows this probably means she’ll be leaving on another job soon. In fact, while in Guyana, she and Uncle had been offered a job by Tommy Ordonez, a Filipino-Chinese businessman. Ordonez is not a patient man, and even though it was explained that they don’t take two jobs at once, he could hardly hold off until they finished the job at hand. A Canadian real estate deal has gone south, and it involves Ordonez’s brother, Philip Chew. Ava is not sure she wants to take the contract, but Ordonez’s right hand man is Chang Wang, a childhood friend of Uncle’s. She realizes that this case may mean more than just business, plus, the lure of the 30% commission from over 50 million dollars is tough to ignore. Soon, Ava and Uncle are off to Hong Kong to meet Ordonez and get the details of the job. Ava soon begins to suspect that there’s much more than meets the eye than just a real estate deal gone wrong, and she’s determined, and more than capable, of getting to the bottom of things.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because of words and phrases like “accountant”and “real estate deals” that The Disciple of Las Vegas is a dry read, because it’s not. When I say that Ava Lee is not your typical accountant, I mean it, and then some. Beautiful, diminutive, and with class to spare, Ava is a force to be reckoned with and she’s also a weapon, trained in a very deadly form of martial arts. As they follow the money, they find out that Philip Chew had a bit of a habit, leading them to an online gambling site called The River. Seems that someone has been cheating, and her client wasn’t the only victim. In The Disciple of Las Vegas, we’re introduced to a woman that isn’t without compassion, but who is willing to do just about anything to recover what is stolen from her clients, and she doesn’t like to get lawyers involved. In fact, she has a couple of fellows that are handy when more hands on work needs to be done, but she’s certainly not averse to getting into the thick of things when she has to. This resilience comes in handy, since Ava finds out that there’s a contract out on her life, and not only does she have to deal with the case at hand, she also has to watch her back.
Frankly, for me, The Disciple of Las Vegas was nearly impossible to put down. The author keeps things very fast paced and the world of online gambling is vast, making it ripe for abuse. This makes for fascinating reading, and his globe hopping, tough as nails protagonist is one that I can’t wait to follow on her next adventure. Ava Lee is a wonderful addition to your thriller/suspense library, and luckily, those of us in the US will get to snag a copy of the next book, The Wild Beasts of Wuhan, in June!