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book review


The 10th Ava Lee novel is a real treat. At a time when many series are sagging, Ian Hamilton has sent his peripatetic heroine into the heart of the Philippines with a storyline as sharp as the latest Far Eastern headlines.

The story opens with Ava enjoying a happy weekend with her new girlfriend, the actor Pang Fai. Then, a phone call comes from one of Uncle's oldest friends, Tommy Ordonez. Tommy is a billionaire and he wants a favour from Ava: fly to Manila and meet with his pal Senator Miguel Ramirez. When Ava gets there, Ramirez wants her to investigate a college on the island of Tawi-Tawi, which may or may not be a training ground for terrorists. Ava, whose action-gal qualities are well-known, may require some help for this task, so Hamilton introduces a CIA agent as a partner – which incidentally opens the plot line further – and the two investigate the school's imam and discover an international chain of events that is far greater in scope than either one imagined. This one takes all of Ava's skills, both mental and physical, as well as taxing the morals and judgment that Uncle has drilled into her. This is the best of the series so far.