Ayo Onatade is an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction. She has been writing reviews, interviews and articles on the subject for the last 12 years; with an eclectic taste from historical to hardboiled, short stories and noir films
The Deadly Touch of the Tigress or The Water Rat of Wanchai (as it is also known by) is the first in a series of novels to feature Chinese-Canadian Ava Lee a forensic accountant. Whilst Ava Lee may live in Toronto, she has retained far-reaching ties to Hong Kong and these include her ambiguous and ominous employer that she refers to as “Uncle”.
Asked by the nephew of a friend of her “Uncle’s” to help retrieve around $5 million that had been taken from him by a fraudulent seafood company Lee soon finds herself flying to Seattle, Hong Kong, Thailand, Guyana and the British Virgin Islands in order to track down the money. Using every means possible including blackmail Lee manages to recover what she set out to do and in the process her commission.
The Deadly Touch of the Tigress could have been a good thriller. However, the author spoilt it by his insistence in making his female protagonist a lover of all things big named branded, he does himself, and his novel a major disservice by consistently name dropping all the time. It certainly detracts from what could have been an appealing and well-written thriller. I am sure that I am not the only one who does not care to know that she not only owns a Cartier Tank Francaise watch, a Louis Vuitton monogrammed suitcase but also wears Brooks Brothers shirts. On reading The Deadly Touch of the Tigress, you could forgive yourself for thinking that you were being given a quick lesson in the top brands one must have. This over the top shopping guide certainly lets this book down.
The first half of the novel also lags and it is not until the second half that the pace picks up with Lee having to deal with a number of violent clashes, abduction and a dishonest police officer. This increase in pace does to a certain extent revitalize a novel that was beginning to get a little weary. However, it does not compensate for reader having to constantly be told directly and indirectly how much the main protagonist is a lover of expensive goods.
When I think of other authors and their characters that have Chinese heritage such as Lily Wu by Juanita Sheridan, April Woo by Leslie Glass, S J Rozan’s Lydia Chin or even Holly-Jean Ho by Irene Lin-Chandler then I am afraid that Ava Lee has a lot to live up to. Cut back on the unneeded information regarding expensive consumer goods, concentrate on the action and this could be an intriguing series. Otherwise, who really wants to read about a forensic accountant that spends most of her time flaunting her good taste! I certainly would not.