Buy Mysteries

Posts Tagged ‘Tibet’

Skeleton God by Eliot Pattison

Anyone who has been around this blog for long will know that Eliot Pattison is one of my favorite contemporary mystery writers.  I look forward to new additions to both his Bone Rattler and his Inspector Shan Tao Yun Mystery series.  “Skeleton God” is the ninth in the Inspector Shan series, and it is perhaps the best one yet because of the depth that it plumbs into the Tibetan culture and psyche.

His protagonist, Shan Tao Yun, is a Chinese former police inspector from Beijing who has been banished to the hinterlands of Tibet for many years.  Shan has taken his banishment as an opportunity to get to know and understand the Tibetan people and their traditions.  Shan has been through a lot. He has spent time at hard labor in a Tibetan prison camp.  He has been a closely watched road inspector. He is now the police inspector for a small Tibetan town that has been partly repopulated by Chinese nationals. He now has the problem of getting the Tibetans in the surrounding community to trust him even though he now wears the uniform of a Chinese policeman.

The people that Shan wants to know better over the course of “Skeleton God” are the “ferals,” the Tibetan people who have refused to give an oath of loyalty to the Chinese government and have been forced out of their homes because of their lack of fealty to China.  These ferals are keepers of the ruins of old Buddhist shrines and monestaries.  One particular retired Chinese general, Lau, is dead-set on wiping out all of these ferals and taking any remaining gold or other treasure from these holy sites.  Shan is dead-set upon preserving as much of the old Tibetan culture as he can without forfeiting his own life or endangering the life of his son, who is now in the same prison Shan inhabited for many years.  Shan has somewhat of a protector in the form of Colonel Tan, the governor of Lhadrung County. Tan is a very complex anti-hero who is sometimes very helpful and at other times very cruel and thoughtless.

Skeleton God” provides the reader with much to think about: the cruel way Tibetan culture is being stamped out by the Chinese overlords; the corruption that goes on within the ranks of the Chinese rulers in Tibet; how the need for freedom serves as an enduring beacon of light for the human spirit in not only the Tibetan people but also many of the Chinese and many of the people from around the world who risk their lives to travel to that country.

I have spoken in the past with Eliot Pattison about his experiences in Tibet and I know that through his fictional characters and the situations that they find themselves entwined in, there is a lot of cultural accuracy and historical fact.  Pattison’s Inspector Shan series is important for anyone to read who has an interest in Tibet and the Tibetan people–and that should be all of us!

Skeleton God” is highly recommended.

Reviewed with a supplied copy.

Liz Nichols

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Two Himalayan Thrillers

Soul of Fire” by Eliot Pattison and “Tibetan Cross” by Mike Bond both have themes set in the Himalayas and both will leave readers both spell-bound and full of questions about international policies and actions taken in Tibet and on behalf of Tibetan freedom fighters.  Both are exciting page-turners and both will leave readers deeply troubled about what is and has been going on in Tibet and Nepal for decades.

Pattison’s new novel, “Soul of Fire,” is the eighth in his Inspector Shan Novels series.  Shan has been appointed as a token Chinese dissident to an international panel meeting in Lhasa to “investigate” the spate of self-immolation deaths of Tibetan protestors.  What Shan uncovers is a systematic attempt on the part of the commission’s Chinese handlers to control the commissions findings, discredit the Tibetan freedom-fighters and murdering anyone who objects by staging deaths as immolation suicides.  The scenes describing an immolation, which several commission members witness, is pretty graphic and grim.  It is not a subject every reader will have the stomach to read about, but anyone who follows the book to its conclusion will have a better understanding of what motivates many Tibetans to take their own lives, and also how and why Tibetan freedom-fighters continue to strike out against Chinese domination.

Bond’s “Tibetan Cross” is equally thought-provoking and it takes quite a different point-of-view.  This novel is set during the Cold War period.  Four Americans who either fought in Vietnam, or were war dissidents have set up a business in Katmandu leading treks into the Himalayan mountains.  The book opens while they are leading a group they find out are linked to the CIA on a mission that turns out to be quite different than the one they thought they signed up for.  An accident reveals that their convoy is really delivering weapons, including a nuclear bomb, to Tibetan freedom-fighters to use against the Chinese.  The CIA operatives waste no time in killing two of their American guides and chasing the other two around the world in an effort to silence them about what they saw.  The protagonist, Sam Cohen, learns through bitter experience that he cannot rely on anyone, and everyone he comes in contact with after the incident on a Nepali pass will be brutally murdered by the CIA.  “Tibetan Cross” is a very dark and cynical look at U.S. and international intelligence forces and the measures they will take to complete a mission no matter what the cost.  What I find a little disappointing is that it was difficult to develop any real sympathy for Cohen because he also employed brutal tactics and killed innocents when they got in the way.  It was hard to find anyone to actually like in this story– all the good guys were killed off.  Still, many thriller readers and fans of Bond’s earlier novels will find “Tibetan Cross” both exciting and thought-provoking. Both books get a thumbs up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Conversation With Eliot Pattison is on for Tonight!

If you’re a fan of international mystery plots like I am you’ll want to make a point of calling in to hear all about Eliot Pattison and his latest book “Mandarin Gate” at 7 p.m. central time.  Call to 1-218-936-4700 and enter code 5819354 when prompted.  This will be a long distance charge call, but if you have Skype you should be able to get on free if you are in the U.S.  The conversation should last about 90 minutes.

Here’s a little about Eliot Pattison from his publicist, Julia Drake:  “Described as “a writer of faraway mysteries,” Eliot Pattison’s travel and interests span a million miles of global trekking, visiting every continent but Antarctica. An international lawyer by training, he brings his social and cultural concerns to his fiction and has also written several books and dozens of articles on legal and business topics, published on three continents. He is the author of the Edgar award-winning Inspector Shan Series, the Bone Rattler series, and Ashes of the Earth, the first novel in a new dystopian series. But his sentiments for Tibet and the Tibetan resistance run deep. His Inspector Shan books have been characterized as a new “campaign thriller” genre for the way they weave significant social and political themes into their plots. Translated into twenty languages, the books have been adapted to radio dramas and become popular on the black market in China. For more info visit: www.eliotpattison.com

Even if you are not a mystery reader generally, this novel is where fiction meets fact in the area of human rights and the absorption of Tibet by its Chinese overlords.  Those concerned with the treatment of the Tibetan people under Chinese control will want to hear Mr. Pattison’s ideas, experiences and research on this topic.

You can participate by adding your questions to the comment area on this blog.  I will be monitoring the blog this evening and will pick up as many questions as possible for Mr. Pattison to address.  Depending on the number of people on the call (we have 150 lines available) we may try to unmute near the end at least for a few minutes.

One of the reasons I am so interested in Pattison’s Inspector Shan series and in the way he brings to the western world a greater understanding of what is happening within Tibet is that in 2005 I had the privilege to attend an audience with the Dalai Lama.  The powerful presence of this holy leader and the message that he brought of peace and understanding despite the terrible things happening within his own country was astonishing.  I will never forget this experience!

Liz Nichols

 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Mandarin Gate by Eliot Pattison

Mandarin Gate” is Eliot Pattison’s 7th novel in the Inspector Shan series.  Shan is a fictional character, but through his experiences the reader gets a true-to-life picture of what is happening in modern-day Tibet.  Shan recognizes that China is trying to absorb Tibet “from the inside out” through massive resettlement of ethnic Chinese dissidents and Chinese gangs, herding of nomads into settlement camps where there is little hope of the people being able to produce sufficient food and shelter to live, by sending dissidents to hard labor “gulags,” and locking up Tibetans in reeducation camps for months on end even when their only infraction is being a relative of someone who is considered a dissident.  Spies are everywhere–even in the monasteries and abbeys that serve as a refuge and inspiration for the Tibetan people.  Shan does what he can to uncover injustice and neutralize those who perpetrate atrocities.  He has learned that he cannot always permanently eliminate evil in the world, but he can counterbalance it a little.

In “Mandarin Gate” Shan, the Beijing police officer-turned ditch inspector in exile within remote Lhadrung County in Tibet, teams up with an unlikely ally, a Chinese police lieutenant, Meng Limei.  Meng is assigned to keep order in a resettlement town named Baiyun which is full of dissident former university faculty from Harbin and a cadre of smugglers and thugs originally from the jungles of Yunnan Province.  The resettlement town sits in a valley that includes a monastery on one end and an shrine that is in the process of restoration on the other.  Within the first chapter or two of the book the abbess of the local abbey and two men are violently killed and later that same day Shan’s good friend, the much-revered lama, Jamyang, commits suicide.  Shan believes there is a connection between these deaths and he convinces Meng to help in his investigation, even though her superiors are clearly trying to shovel all of the nastiness under a rug.

As is typical of Pattison’s prose, the book does not include a single unnecessary description or detail.  The spare prose is beautifully written to explain the elegantly complex plot as simply as possible. Descriptions reveal a lot about each character’s personality and motivations with little extraneous or unnecessary dialog.  This suspense novel is so gripping it is almost impossible to put down.  The reader is made to feel as if they have stepped inside a remote Tibetan detention center or a farm house headquarters of the Jade Crows and are ducking punches right along with Shan.  The descriptions in “Mandarin Gate” become vividly real.

For all those who find the Inspector Shan novels enlightening, and for those who care about the plight of the Tibetan people, I have a special surprise.  The MysteryMavenBlog has arranged a teleconference interview of Eliot Pattison for next week, Tuesday, January 15 at 8 p.m. Eastern time (7 Central, 6 Mountain and 5 p.m. Pacific time).   The number is: 1-218-936-4700.  You will be asked to enter the participant access code: 5819354 to get in.  Because we have only 150 lines available you’ll want to get in early.  The call will last no more than 90 minutes. The numbers prohibit our unmuting except possibly at the very end for everyone to say goodnight to our guest author.  If you have questions please put them in to the comments section of this blog and I’ll ask them when I can of our author.  Alternatively, send your comments and questions to me at my email: lizdnichols@gmail.com.  I will add a text box at this site so you have that information available to you on the day of the event, and if you sign up to receive email from my blog you will get a reminder message ahead of the conference time.

Liz Nichols

(Copy of this work was provided for review.)

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,