Skeleton God
by Pattison, Eliot

Shan Tao Yun, the constable of a remote Tibetan town, investigates when a nun has seemingly been brutally attacked by ghosts in an ancient tomb that also contains the body of a recently murdered American man.

ELIOT PATTISON is the Edgar Award-winning author of eight previous Shan novels. A frequent visitor to China, his books and articles on international policy issues have been published around the world. He lives in Oley, Pennsylvania.

Like every policeman holding together a rural backwater, Constable Shan must pay lip service to outsiders' whims while navigating local realities. But if the backwater is in remote Tibet and the bosses are in China, the stakes are quite a bit higher than usual. Shan is just trying to keep his head down, but then he is led to a tomb that has been emitting a strange noise and, when opened, reveals a mummified saint who has company. The constable discovers that Chinese influence on his village has been more devastating than he knew, and his hapless, long-imprisoned son is far from the only victim of the conquerors. This ninth in Edgar Award-winner Pattison's Inspector Shan Tao Yun series is slow in parts but offers a satisfying tale of murder mixed with historical detail, family love, and 1984-like political inanity that will keep readers tuned in. Though Pattison's work is more literary than Dan Brown's, readers who enjoyed the religious elements of The Da Vinci Code might want to give this one a try. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Inspector Shan struggles to separate implausible myth from verifiable fact in probing a murky murder scene.Now working as a constable in a rural Tibetan outpost, Inspector Shan Tao Yun (Soul of the Fire, 2014, etc.) is pressed in to a trip to the mountains when a superstitious woman named Yara bursts into his office with the cry, "The dead are rising!" She drops a set of coral beads covered in blood, which a female prisoner recognizes as the property of a hermit nun. When Shan investigates, he finds the nun, Nyima, brutally assaulted and two corpses nearby. One is a Chinese soldier dead for decades, the other a Western man dead for just a few hours. Examining the bodies in the comfort of the indoors is the first step in his investigation. Both were stabbed in identical fashion while immobilized with nails through the hands. Are the malevolent spirits whom all the terrified locals whisper about responsible? The methodical Shan is not to be swayed by superstition. In a modest l ibrary in Lhasa, he bones up on the military history of the region, looking for keys to the identities of the victims. The complexion of the case changes considerably when he learns that the dead Western man and Nyima were of the same family. To unravel the mystery, Shan must confront both rampant corruption and the locals' denial of a shameful past. Pattison's ninth installment provides an important history lesson little understood in the West with authority, nuance, and genuine suspense. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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