Water Touching Stone
St. Martin's Press, June, 2002.
Hardcover, 560 pages.
Eliot Pattison's debut novel, The Skull Mantra, introduced an unusual new investigator to the ranks of detective fiction. Shan Tao Yun was once an esteemed investigator in Beijing, who was sent to the Tibetan gulag after he refused to drop a financial investigation which would have been politically embarrassing to the Communist party leaders. Tortured and starved, he only survived his ordeal because of the help he received from the imprisoned Tibetan Buddhist monks he came to know and respect. After assisting in an investigation, he was unofficially released, and has been in hiding in Tibet in an Buddhist sanctuary. In Water Touching Stone, Shan is asked by the monks to travel to northern Tibet to solve the mystery of a murdered teacher, whose students are also being murdered one by one -- some say by a terrible demon. Shan agrees to the dangerous journey, and sets out with an elderly lama, a young Kazakh woman, a bitter member of the Tibetan resistance and various other companions. Shan's journey takes him close to the border with China, which is populated with the Moslem Kazakh clans, known for their skills with and love for horses, secret Buddhist monasteries, corrupt Chinese officials, and Russian smugglers. His investigation will involve much hardship, but he will discover many wonders along the way.
The international news media virtually ignores the sufferings of occupied Tibet. The Chinese government rules the country with an iron hand, and is still following a ruthless campaign to wipe out the native cultures and religions of the area. The government has even kidnapped and is holding the panchen lama -- the person who will lead the search for the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, after the current lama dies. Eliot Pattison uses this horrific background to create a fascinating mystery series. Pattison uses his considerable skills as a writer to shows the beauty and mystery of Tibet, and the fierceness and pride of a people who have been brutally subjugated by a corrupt and utterly evil government. This is an outstanding and absolutely fascinating mystery series.
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This review was published in the October - November, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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