Is the mainstream mystery-reading public ready for a lesbian leading lady? I think so, especially when that lead is someone like Ava Lee, so controlled, fastidious, and (can I say?) moral in her professional work, she does not push her sexuality to the forefront. This book opens, however, “to the sensation of lips kissing her forehead. She opened her eyes to semi-darkness and saw her girlfriend, Maria, hovering over her, her face in shadow.” Ava understands that others might have reservations about her lifestyle, but she rock-solid sure their concerns are not her own.
The books in this series never fail to arouse my interest, partly because Ava is so finely drawn and so exceptional that we are curious how she will react in any situation. Things don’t always go well in her chosen profession as forensic accountant chasing deadbeats who don’t honor their financial commitments. While Ava can’t be said to be fearless (we are privy to her anxieties), she is darn near flawless in her execution (and yes, this is a double-entendre). I am still horrified when Ava makes good on her threats of violence, but this is fiction after all, though fiercely intelligent and involving international fiction it is.
A Canadian filmmaker, Karen Walton, has been chosen to turn the books into a film series, and I sincerely hope all the follow-on choices of actors, directors, producers can keep pace with the standards set by this fictional character. She is something else altogether and it could be a wildly successful film franchise.
In sum, buy the books—start with The Water Rat of Wanchai. You may have to buy from House of Anansi Press in Canada (houseofanansi.com) but do yourself a favor. These are completely addictive.
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