x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Ian Hamilton thriller ties kung fu with accounting

Meet Ava Lee, the beautiful, kung fu-fighting, forensic accountant who specialises in investigating corporate crime in Ian Hamilton's The Disciple of Las Vegas.

The Disciple of Las Vegas
Ian Hamilton
Little Brown

Ava Lee, the protagonist of Ian Hamilton's new novel, is a beautiful, kung fu-fighting, forensic accountant who specialises in investigating corporate crime. But she is still only an accountant. And therein lies this book's central flaw.

The tale concerns Lee's hunt for missing millions that have been defrauded from a mega-rich Chinese-Filipino family. But while the author tries to spice up the narrative with a cast of nefarious gangsters and sleazy card sharks, much of Lee's quest involves the mainstay of an accountant's job, which is number crunching and sifting through paperwork.

Another sticking point is the author's constant namedropping of fashion labels when depicting the appearance of new characters. While Hamilton may think all this product placement adds glitz, in fact it comes across as a lazy substitute for proper descriptions.

That said, Hamilton has a gift for moving his plot along at a galloping pace, as Lee wheels her way through a parade of exotic locales. Nevertheless, unless you're an ardent fan of unchallenging thrillers, or indeed the world of bookkeeping, it's hard to recommend this book.