Ava is in Shanghai with Pang Fai to visit her ailing friend Xu when a triad war breaks out in Hong Kong. Sammy Wing, an old enemy of Ava’s who has twice tried to kill her, has enlisted the aid of his nephew Carter — the new Mountain Master of Sha Tin — to reclaim control of his old territory, Wanchai, from Xu’s men.
There is nothing subtle about the Wings’ methods. Xu’s most trusted enforcer, Lop, has been shot, and six of his street soldiers kidnapped. The Wings threaten to execute them unless Xu’s men vacate Wanchai immediately. Ava steps in to broker a settlement, and the Wings respond by sending her a box containing six fingers — and a twelve-hour deadline.
As the violence and tension mount, Ava is driven to the edge, and she is forced to devise a plan that will bring her face-to-face with Sammy and Carter Wing. The only question left unanswered is who will pull the trigger first?
Arthur Ellis Award winner Hamilton, in his solid 12th novel featuring diminutive but deadly Ava Lee (after The Goddess Yantai), centers the story on a gang war in Hong Kong, where once dominant Sammy Wing and his vicious nephew, Carter Wing, are trying to take back power now wielded by Xu, "Ava's closest male friend," who heads the triads in Shanghai. Xu himself is ill, and his Hong Kong deputy, Lop, was wounded in an assassination attempt, so it's up to Ava to coordinate the gang's response to the insurgents. She must be careful not to attract the attention of the police or the Communist government, but she also must defend the gang's honor as forcefully as necessary. As in The Godfather, strict professional decorum is mixed with cold brutality, as when Ava meets the Wings in an upscale restaurant to negotiate the release of kidnapped members of Xu's gang and is presented with a box of severed fingers. Hamilton provides a fascinating peek into a disturbingly glamorous world.