the styled beasts of wuhan | OUTVisions for LGBT Professionals

the styled beasts of wuhan

the wild beasts of wuhan

the styled beasts of wuhan
alex johnston

The Wild Beasts of Wuhan, by Ian Hamilton; Published by House of Anansi Press; Available in Paperback (2012)

Ava Lee is a Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who specializes in asset recovery - but she is no ordinary debt collector: Lee deals in missing millions and works for some very particular clients. In the third Ava Lee novel, her mysterious mentor ‘Uncle’ puts her in touch with one of the most powerful men in China who has a problem: 15 paintings that have been revealed as fakes - meaning he’s been defrauded of $73 million. Ava quickly finds herself in a globe-trotting pursuit through the underworld of fraudulent art dealers and reclusive forgers  racing against her prey… and possibly her employers?

Ian Hamilton is a former journalist and it shows - the clothes (brand names, styles), the exotic food, the local colour, the ins and outs of the art underworld - all of these things are described in crisp, efficient detail. Though Ava doesn’t carry James Bond’s Walther PPK, and only uses her martial arts skills once, she is nonetheless a quintessential competent iconic character. She has a black belt, the right shirt and knows where the best hotels are, and this gives the book a seductive, escapist charm.

This being OUTVisions, I should also mention that Ava happens to be a lesbian. I don’t know if this is significant in other books in the series but it has no effect on plot and little on characterization in this one. I’m back and forth as to whether this is a liberating recognition that lesbianism is a non-issue, or somewhat tokenistic. I would definitely say this is a mystery with a lesbian protagonist rather than a “lesbian mystery” - and I leave it up to you to decide if that makes a difference to whether you’ll enjoy this or not.

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Authoralex johnston

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