A murder mystery set against the backdrop of Tibet and China.
Eliot Pattison's numerous books and articles on international policy issues have been published on three continents. He is a world traveller and frequent visitor to China. The Skull Mantra, his first work of fiction, won the Edgar Award for best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America. Beautiful Ghosts is Pattison's fourth novel featuring former Beijing Investigator, Shan Tao Yun.
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.