The Saturday Afternoon Book Club: The Scottish Banker of Surabaya

This month, I have a new intern, Leslie Emmons. She’s lovely – young, bright, fun, and really, everything I wish I was. Including a good writer. So this month, I turn over my book column to her.

Leslie’s pick? Ian Hamilton’s new book, The Banker of Surabaya (House of Anansi Press Inc., 2013).

The Scottish Banker of Surabaya

By Leslie Emmons

In Ian Hamilton’s latest novel, debt collector Ava Lee sets out to Surabaya, Indonesia to retrieve $30 million dollars that was stolen from a group of Vietnamese Canadians, in what at first looks like a Ponzi scheme.

A friend of Ava’s mother who lost a share of the money begs Ava to take the case and upon arriving in the city, Ava discovers the ’Ndrangheta, an Italian mob family, are behind the scheme and asking them to return what was taken isn’t really an option.

Ava uses her wit – and her connections – to get to the bottom of the missing funds, but that doesn’t mean she comes out unscathed.

The fifth book in Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee series was really engaging and there were certain parts where I really couldn’t put the book down. I don’t typically read books in the mystery genre, but I love strong female characters and Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee did not disappoint.

Ava is independent and determined, but also very human. In the novel she becomes the victim of an unspeakable assault, yet she returns to a place she vowed to never set foot in again, to see the rest of the case through.

I did sometimes find myself questioning Ava’s motivation. Why would she put herself at risk for money she doesn’t really need, for a person she doesn’t really know? Those thoughts crossed my mind many times after she was attacked.

While reading this book, I experienced so many emotions. There were moments that made me smile and tear up. There were moments where I was holding my breath and anticipating (or dreading) what was going to happen next.

I enjoyed the fact that this book was very Canadian. I tend to read novels that are usually based in other cities and countries, so reading a book with streets and locations that I recognize and have been to personally was great.

I don’t want to give too much away on this review, so hopefully this is enough to pique your curiosity and pick up the book!

The sixth book in the Ava Lee series is called The Two Sisters of Borneo and will be published in February 2014.

How about you? Have you ever read an Ian Hamilton novel?