Newsletter - BUMSTED PICKS OF 2012 - Wendy's Picks

Monday Dec 03 2012
by Whodunit

Wendy's Picks

This year I have chosen a series instead of a single title for my book of the year. I made this decision because the books have been published over a fairly compact period of time. The author is Ian Hamilton and his main character is Ava Lee, a Chinese -Canadian forensic accountant. Hamilton is Canadian, although most of the action takes place in the Far East. There are at present four books in the series, with a fifth, The Scottish Banker of Surabaya, being released in February 2013. I like books, that I learn something from along with the mystery. In the first book of this series, The Water Rat of Wanchai, (2011), I learnt quite a bit about the economics of frozen shrimp. The second book, The Disciple of Last Vegas, (2011), dealt, as you might guess with gambling. I think my favorite book of the series, so far is The Wild Beasts of Wuhan, (2012) which concerns Art collecting and forgery, and as is hinted at in the title, primarily the work of the Fauve artists. The most recent book, The Red Pole of Macau, (2012) has a lot of information about the Chinese tongs (organized crime). The author, Ian Hamilton, began writing this series two days after leaving the hospital having suffered a life threatening illness. While there is a back story to the novels, I do not think that it is necessary to read the books in order.

If you're curious, check out a sample from the first book The Water Rat of Wanchai here.

I have been thinking about the series format quite a lot this fall. One of my favourite series, written by Stephen White is coming to an end. About eighteen months ago the author announced that there would be only two more titles in his Dr. Alan Gregory series. White had made the decision because he said he wanted to be in control of his character and his series. I read Line of Fire, (2012), when it came out in August and although I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was very much a set up for the final book in the series, which as yet untitled is scheduled for publication in August 2013. (Read an excerpt from Line of Fire here.) Another series I watch out for anxiously is Quintin Jardine’s Bob Skinner series. When Funeral Note, (2012) arrived last August I was a little ambivalent about it because the chapters were written from different standpoints. For me this style often slows the story down but in this case it enhanced the plot. I literally could not put the book down. There is a cliffhanger and I cannot wait to see how it is resolved when Pray for the Dying (2013) comes next August. However, this will be the twenty third title in the Skinner series and I wonder how much longer it will go on and whether I would prefer to know when the series is ending. 

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