Beautiful Ghosts

by Elliot Pattison

St. Martin's Minotaur, April, 2004.
Hardcover, 368 pages.
ISBN: 0312277598

Beautiful Ghosts by Elliot Pattison Former Beijing detective inspector Shan Tao Yun has become used to his new life in Tibet. After being unofficially released from the gulag (he was imprisoned for refusing to participate in corrupt Beijing politics), Shan lives a nomadic life with Buddhist monks who are under constant threat of arrest by the Chinese government who has outlawed the practice of any religion that is not state-sanctioned. Just as he is about to set off on a spiritual retreat, Shan is embroiled in the aftermath of a murder in an ancient, ruined monastery which hides a great historical treasure. As Shan investigates, he finds that a number of people have an interest in the case: the FBI agent who is on the trail of stolen Tibetan art, an American billionaire whose obsession with Tibetan treasures knows no bounds, a Chinese Minister of Culture whose obsession with power rivals that of the billionaire and the Chinese military official who arranged for Shan's release but who is finding Shan to be a real thorn in his side. Shan must play a delicate and dangerous game in order to protect the artifacts and people of the country he has come to call home.

This is the fourth book in this tremendous series set in Tibet, which is part mystery, part thriller and part historical novel. In this story, Elliot Pattison examines the art of Tibet, much of which has been destroyed by the Chinese occupiers. Shan finally learns the fate of his son in this book, which adds emotional depth to the story. In addition to the present-day mystery, the author intertwines an intriguing parallel story from Tibet's past which involves a long-lost Chinese Emperor's son. Elliot Pattison's insights into Chinese-occupied Tibet are so discerning that his books and access to his website has been banned in China by the government. This is one of the most interesting and entertaining mystery series being written today.

--Claire E. White

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This review was published in the May-June, 2004 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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