Summoning is a dangerous thing. To the old Buddhists, words were the most dangerous weapon of all.' Shan Tao Yun is a former investigator for the chinese government who once got a little too close to the truth. Now he breaks rocks in a Tibetan prison camp high in the Himalayas. Only the remarkable courage of the Buddhist monks who are his fellow prisoners give him the will to survive. But when a smartly dressed headless corpse is discovered on the bleak mountainside, Shan is forced to become a detective once more. And as he uncovers a web of intrigue involving a beautiful American mining engineer, Tibetan sorcerers, corrupt Chinese officials and the Buddhist Resistance, he begins to realise that far more than his own survival is at stake.
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Not many political thrillers are set in Tibet, and few can match the power and poetry of this debut novel by journalist Eliot Pattison. At the heart of the story is a forced labor camp where the Chinese imprison Buddhist monks and other local dissidents they've swept up since taking over Tibet. The prison also holds a few special Chinese prisoners--including Shan Tao Yun. This middle-aged man was once the inspector general of the Ministry of Economy in Beijing, specializing in fraud cases. For reasons even he doesn't understand, he has been imprisoned and brutalized, and now he spends his days breaking rocks high in the Himalayas on a road crew called the People's 404th Construction Brigade. Shan manages to survive under these harsh conditions thanks to the spiritual guidance of his fellow prisoners, but this precarious balance is threatened by the discovery of the headless body of a local Chinese official near a road construction site.
The dead man's head soon turns up in a famous shrine--a cave that contains the skulls of heroic monks. The shrewd Red Army colonel in charge of the district asks Shan to conduct an investigation: offers of better food and conditions combined with threats against his monk friends convinces him to take on the task. Colonel Tan wants a fast resolution that imcriminates a mute, passive monk found near the cave, but Shan is certain that the man isn't guilty. More likely killers include other high-ranking Chinese officials, as well as some American mining capitalists who had personal as well as financial dealings with the dead man.
By engaging his readers in a mass of details, Pattison makes us believe completely in Shan and his perilous situation--and creates a rare combination of excitement and enlightenment. --Dick AdlerAbout the Author:
Eliot Pattison is a world traveler and frequent visitor to China, whose numerous books and articles on international policy issues have been published on three continents. The Skull Mantra is his first work of fiction and won him the Edgar award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America.
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Book Description Arrow Books Ltd, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 99409798