About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Princeling of Nanjing by Ian Hamilton

The Princeling of Nanjing by Ian Hamilton - Ava Lee is deeply occupied with the opportunities and dangers of Chinese business. Her business venture into high end clothing with May Ling and Amanda Lee has a very successful fashion show. They are poised to enter into markets in and out of China. However, Xu who is the chairman of the triads, has experienced complications in his personal business.

Xu seeks Ava’s business and accounting experience to deal with the Tsai family who count among its members the Governor and the Communist Party Secretary for the province of Jiangsu. They have leveraged their control of the provincial government into lucrative contracts. As common with the avaricious they want more and are pushing, even threatening, Xu to enter into the manufacture of synthetic drugs. For a man wanting to minimize his triad business and to avoid conflict within the triads it is a difficult situation.

Ava returns to her roots as a forensic accountant. Discreetly but extensively using contacts within China, Hong Kong and her home of Toronto she assembles a picture of a business empire assembled by the Tsais. Their corruption is breathtaking in its scale.

The Tsais, especially the Tasi men, are also clever and intuitive. They swiftly discern Ava’s interest which they rightly assume was on behalf of Xu and react negatively.

Ava, upset with herself for underestimating the Tsais, reverts to her basic approach to aggression. She takes the initiative, moving swifter than her opposition, to counter-attack and force the Tsai family on the defensive.

One of her strategies is logical. The other is implausible. Only in fiction do people give up information so quickly under some pressure.

Unlike several recent books in the series there is no violent resolution. Ava skillfully orchestrates an exploration of the Tsai family finances. 

While I weary of books with almost endless twists the tension of the investigation was modest. The results were foreordained.

The sums involved in the books of the series have increased exponentially from the earliest books. Ava is now a member of the super-rich though her personal expenditures are little changed. She is on her way to being a business titan.

The story moves swiftly. While I appreciate Ava using her accounting skills more than her martial arts some more drama was needed. 

Ava’s personal relationships are barely touched upon in the book.

The Princeling of Nanjing is not a strong addition to the series.


  1. Bill, "The Princeling of Nanjing" may not be the best in the series, but Ava Lee comes across as a formidable and an impressive character. It's also interesting that the author, who I have not read, should set (most of) his novels in East and Southeast Asia. I assume one needs to read the novels in chronological order.

    1. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. Ava is a great character. Hamilton does well in the series to building and changing her experiences. In this part of the series she is in Asia. In earlier books she has been in many different countries. She continues to think of Canada as home.

  2. It's good to hear that there's less violence and more skill in this series entry, Bill. And it does sound like an interesting premise. I prefer to keep my disbelief right next to me when I read, but still, it sounds like a solid story, if not exactly full of suspense...

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. There is not a lot of disbelief to suspend in this story. I am hoping to enjoy more the next book in the series.

  3. Bill, I have only read the first two books in this series. I liked the first one best, but I will read book 3 and see what I think. I thought book 2 was way too violent.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. There were several books in the series with graphic violence. There has always been enough use of Ava's intelligence to keep me going.

  4. Bill another author and series I've been meaning to try. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Col: Thanks for the comment. I would suggest starting with the first in the series. You can skip around some later but the first book is foundational.