Hong Kong, 1970. The Dragon Head (also known as the Mountain Master) of the Fanling Triad has died and there is a struggle to replace him among senior members of the gang. Normally, the Deputy Mountain Master is next in line, but this one is weak and ineffectual and has only survived because of the protection of the Dragon Head. Up to this point, the Fanling Triad has operated in relative isolation from neighbouring gangs, but the Dragon Head’s death has drawn attention to the area — and to its wealth. Other gangs start to make threatening moves and it’s obvious to the senior members of the Fanling Triad that they need a leader who can fend off the threats, unite the membership, and maintain their prosperity. There are several candidates. The least conspicuous is the White Paper Fan, their young administrator. His name is Chow Tung, but many of those who work with him already refer to him as “Uncle” . . .
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Twelve books into his Ava Lee series, Ian Hamilton delves into the backstory of one of the series’ most beloved characters: Lee’s mentor, Chow Tung (known as “Uncle”). We already know and love Uncle for his endless wisdom, but Fate gives us a glimpse into what makes him tick and how he’s achieved such great success. Hamilton’s writing never fails to deliver when it comes to time and place, and he comes through again with Uncle’s story of Communist China and triad gangs. Ava Lee fans are in for a treat—as, really, are all mystery and crime fans.
Fans of Canadian author Hamilton will welcome this series launch featuring Uncle Chow Tung, a beloved supporting character in the author's popular Ava Lee series (The Imam of Tawi-Tawi, etc.). A harrowing prologue set in 1959 chronicles how 25-year-old Chow and nine others try to escape the depredations of Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward by swimming from mainland China across four kilometers of polluted sea to Hong Kong. Not everyone makes it. Flash forward to 1969, when Chow Tung becomes a full-fledged member of the Fanling triad, a Hong Kong crime syndicate. Soon afterward, Gao Lok, the triad's leader, dies in an auto accident. Chow, whom Gao highly trusted, recommends that Ma, Gao's obvious successor, not be appointed and that an election be held. On the day of Gao's funeral, Ma and his deputy are shot dead in the funeral home courtyard. The tension rises as the various major players jockey for power. Hamilton does a masterly job capturing the sights, smells, and sounds of Hong Kong as he charts Chow's struggle to survive.