Nonetheless, one could begin reading the series with this volume. Indeed, in some ways it provides a clearer understanding of some aspects of Ava's life than the first volume.
In The Water Rat of Wanchai, Ava takes a case in the novel's opening pages after only briefly considering the possibilities with her business partner, a man she calls 'Uncle'.
In The Disciple of Las Vegas, Uncle's history is shared in more detail and readers are actually introduced to him in Hong Kong.
Uncle is a man of considerable influence. The new client on the scene -- who needs someone to collect a bad debt for him, with great discretion -- has an advisor with a significant connection to Uncle.
"He is from Wuhan like me, and over the years we have shown each other many favours. I would still have ten men rotting in Filipino prisons if it were not for him, and he would still be waiting for permits to build cigarette factories in Hubei province if it were not for me."
It is this advisor who has steered this extremely wealthy client in Ava Lee's direction. Uncle was already urging Ava to wrap up her case in The Water Rat of Wanchai so that she could shift her attention to this new client.
The Disciple of Las Vegas picks up that story right where readers were left off, literally the next morning after Ava has returned home having solved the lingering case. The second chapter opens with Ava having travelled to Hong Kong to meet with Uncle to begin this new case in earnest.
(As with the first novel, there are many scene changes: from Toronto to Hong Kong, San Francisco, Las Vegas, London, Vancouver and Costa Rica. Armchair-travellers will delight in the variety, although frequently Ava only has time to observe the hotels and airports in these destinations.)
The pacing in Ian Hamilton's novels is tight and consistent.
(Full response to this novel is here. Lots more to say!)