“Erudite, eloquent, and entertaining, Pattison thrills both mystery enthusiasts and readers fascinated by, and concerned about, Tibet.” Booklist (Starred Review)
“Salted with wonderfully effective set pieces.” Kirkus Reviews
The opening of Pattison's intricate fourth book (after 2002's Bone Mountain) finds Shan, his disgraced Chinese police inspector, still living among the outcast monks in the mountains of Tibet, where the people are torn between wanting to observe their ancient religious ways and fearing the wrath of their Chinese occupiers if they do. Gradually, objects from the modern outside world begin to intrude: a gambling chip from a casino in Reno, Nev., found at a murder scene; a set of Staffordshire teacups lovingly preserved by an old Tibetan woman, who also owns a global positioning indicator. Though he's been deliberately avoiding civilization since his release from prison the year before, Shan ends up traveling to his native Beijing and finally to Seattle, ostensibly to help solve a murder mystery concerning Tibetan artworks, but really to settle a political squabble involving a veteran FBI agent, some powerful Chinese officials and an American software billionaire. The promise of a meeting with his long-lost son, now also an imprisoned criminal, raises the emotional ante. Pattison, who persuades us on every page that he knows the culture he writes about, has a tendency to explore in excruciating detail every possible twist and turn of his complex story. It may make for increased authenticity, but it also adds too many pages to a book that cries out for more economy. Agent, Natasha Kern. (Apr. 16) FYI: The first book in the series, Skull Mantra (1999), won an Edgar for Best First Novel. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Disgraced and replaced, former Beijing Public Security Investigator Shan Tao Yan (Bone Mountain, 2002, etc.) remains the nonpareil cop, even to his enemies. Whenever wily party boss Colonel Tan feels embattled, he plays his Shan card, calling on a super-sleuth whose detecting trademark-brilliant deductions more often metaphysical than physical-make him an anti-Holmes. This fourth time out, the complex case involves a vulture-like force poised to descend on Tibet. Tan wants no such invasion, and since Shan doesn't either, the two achieve a rare accord. So Shan, paroled from a work camp, tilts with FBI secret agendas and opportunistic Chinese officialdom in an effort to solve a murder in a remote Tibetan monastery, which is connected to the murder of a young American nanny, which is connected to the attempt to lift long-hidden Tibetan art treasures from remote mountain caves, which is connected in turn to the kind of political chicanery that gives Colonel Tan night sweats. It all takes on an entirely different and unpredictable coloration for Shan when his son appears. Ko is apparently a sociopathic 19-year-old who reveres the father he's been taught to think of as an arch-criminal. Ironically and poignantly, the inescapable truth about Shan, his essential decency, diminishes him in Ko's eyes. What's a loving father to do? Salted with wonderfully effective set pieces, but traveling the distances between them is no picnic.