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.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Couturier of Milan by Ian Hamilton

(12. - 1151.) The Couturier of Milan by Ian Hamilton - The Three Sisters (Ava Lee, May Ling Wong and Amanda
Yee) are in London for the first show of PÖ at Fashion Week. The designs by Clark Po are brilliant and the show is a great success. 

 In the whirlwind after the show they are approached by Raffi Pandolfo from the Ventola Luxury Group (VLG) to meet in Milan with Dominic Ventola, the head of VLG.  

In Italy the decisive Ventola makes an offer to The Three Sisters, Clark and Gillian Po to buy a majority interest in PÖ. They refuse. An angry Ventola, unaccustomed to being rejected, threatens them.

At the same time Ava’s relationship with Maria is in trouble. In recent books their time together has been modest.

When Ventola acts, Ava puts her personal affairs aside. The VLG attack is fierce and overwhelming and worldwide. The intimidation is clearly illegal but there is no time to respond with a court action.

True to her nature and the lessons of Uncle, Ava wants to launch a counter-offensive but how to challenge the giant. VLF has fifteen billion dollars in annual sales:

Product lines that encompassed the very best in leather goods and fashion, jewellery, watches, shoes, perfume, and liquor including premium whiskey and cognac labels and one of the world’s top champagne producers.

In her training for the Chinese martial art of bek mei Ava learned swift attacks upon vulnerable points of the body. Uncle was a master of finding the weaknesses of business adversaries. Ava must find the tender spots of VLG or face a major financial setback. 

She considers Ventola as:

 “....just another man who thinks women were put on this earth to do what they’re told or get run over. There isn’t a man alive who can tell me what to do. And I’m certainly not about to be run over.”

Drawing on a French aphorism, Ava tells VLG it will find out how vicious the women and the man of PÖ will be in defending themselves.

Yet Ava is not going to just lash out against the bully. Uncle has taught her to be analytical and she is a skilled accountant. She is also ruthless.

When a potentially violent meeting is set up Ava attends with her male allies. I was reminded of how Uncle gained the loyalty of his triads by standing shoulder to shoulder in the front rank of confrontations rather than leading from the rear.

Where I found drama lacking in The Princeling of Nanjing there is abundant tension in The Couturier of Milan. The stakes are high. Reputations and millions of dollars are at stake. I was anxious to see how the conflict between the rising PÖ and the established titan of the luxury world, VLG, was resolved. Hamilton kept the pages rolling. I had to know what happened next in the plot.



  1. I think Hamilton is doing such an effective job at developing Ava's character, Bill. She hasn't lost her basic personality, but she's moving along in her life, as people do. I think that adds to the appeal of this series. And I always think these novels are good for those who like to 'armchair travel.' I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Ava is moving ahead. She is now in her mid-thirties. She is actually doing less travel in the last couple of books but she still moves around the world.