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Beautiful Ghosts (Inspector Shan Tao Yun) Hardcover – April 5, 2004

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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Shan Tao Yun (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (April 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312277598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312277598
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,423,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

A murder in a ruined monastery, an FBI agent on the trail of stolen art, a British relief worker, an American billionaire in cahoots with a Chinese minister, and a beautiful woman with a dual heritage are the key ingredients in this thrilling new addition to Eliot Pattison's fascinating series featuring former Beijing detective inspector Shan Tao Yun. Released unofficially from a work camp in Tibet and now living with the forbidden lamas he has sworn to protect from Chinese efforts to eradicate them and their culture, the enigmatic inspector is caught in a web of political intrigue between the Chinese official who arranged his release and the pompous and corrupt Minister of Culture who will stop at nothing, including murder, to possess the ancient treasure believed hidden in the monastery. Shan becomes more complex and multidimensional as he faces new challenges in this adventure, including repairing his relationship with his long-missing son. The action and the central character move from the mountains and provincial capitals of Tibet, to Beijing, and even America. This is the fourth novel in Patison's unique and engrossing series; readers discovering him for the first time will want to read his backlist, especially the Edgar Award-winning The Skull Mantra. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

The opening of Pattison's intricate fourth book (after 2002's Bone Mountain) finds Shan, his disgraced Chinese police inspector, still living among the outcast monks in the mountains of Tibet, where the people are torn between wanting to observe their ancient religious ways and fearing the wrath of their Chinese occupiers if they do. Gradually, objects from the modern outside world begin to intrude: a gambling chip from a casino in Reno, Nev., found at a murder scene; a set of Staffordshire teacups lovingly preserved by an old Tibetan woman, who also owns a global positioning indicator. Though he's been deliberately avoiding civilization since his release from prison the year before, Shan ends up traveling to his native Beijing and finally to Seattle, ostensibly to help solve a murder mystery concerning Tibetan artworks, but really to settle a political squabble involving a veteran FBI agent, some powerful Chinese officials and an American software billionaire. The promise of a meeting with his long-lost son, now also an imprisoned criminal, raises the emotional ante. Pattison, who persuades us on every page that he knows the culture he writes about, has a tendency to explore in excruciating detail every possible twist and turn of his complex story. It may make for increased authenticity, but it also adds too many pages to a book that cries out for more economy.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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What an interesting story and peek into the Tibetan Buddhist mind.
From this point to this book is a must read too, and has helped me to make a decision to avoid `made in china' goods.
The landscape and character descriptions are so vivid and real that the ability to imagine them comes so easily.
S. L. Sinclair

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By on and off book freak on May 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The fourth Shan novel from Eliot Pattison is, in my opinion, his most polished and easiest for a first time reader. The formulaic corpse in the first few pages is duly introduced, allowing the author to get onto his primary theme of Buddhism. The protagonists and antagonists come across as complex, conflicted individuals and a little less, in this work, as political stereotypes (except for the real baddies of course). It's not too hard to figure out who did the deeds, but as before, all the joy is in the well-paced journey to discovery.
Mr. Pattison uses space...chortens, mountains, temples, geology, in very interesting ways in all of his books, with parallel outer and inner spaces. I think this is done very well in this work. Beautiful Ghosts can well stand alone, without requiring knowledge of the prior books. If one has read the previous novels, the characters seem like old friends and allow Mr. Pattison to use careful understatement in the context of our previous encounters, especially with the learned and kindly senior lamas.
The inner struggles of Shan are deep and wrenching, but at the same time not as disorganized, overwhelming, or at times as overwrought as in the earlier mysteries. One can almost sense him going sane or perhaps growing spiritually from book to book. He seems to be growing into himself despite the very personal hits he takes in this book. Suggestions for future themes abound for Himalaya devotees....Bon, cross-border trade with India, relationships with the Tibetan exile community, etc. I can't wait to see what is next.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
At one time Inspector Shan Tao Yun felt his life in Beijing was excellent, but he made the error of following personal ethics and adhering to the law rather than the party line; he alienated a person very high in the Chinese governmental hierarchy. The "court" sentenced Shan to toil at a remote work camp where he would not see his wife or son ever again. However, he no longer works at the camp; instead, Shan lives in Tibet amidst outlawed Buddhist monks. Having become a non-person of no status, Shan can never go home.
Shan attends a ceremony rededicating an ancient ruined monastery. While there, he finds evidence that a murder recently occurred amidst the devastated monastery. Local officials want to investigate dangling the opportunity to go back to Beijing and see his son as a carrot. Others want him quietly to leave the area. Worse, the FBI and Beijing officials are involved too. Hoping to protect the secret group of Buddhist monks that have befriended him, Shan begins to make inquiries that will take him far away from the Himalayas across the Pacific.
This is an engaging Chinese mystery starring a delightful lead protagonist, but the real star is the vivid and deep look into Tibet and other Himalayan locations. Readers obtain a taste of Buddhism and the Chinese Communist government's efforts to eliminate the belief system. Shan is a wonderful sleuth finding himself pulled in several directions, but following his personal ethics regardless of the cost to his heart. BEAUTIFUL GHOST is a beautiful thriller.
Harriet Klausner
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Susan Childers on June 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eliot Pattison's details quickly transport the reader to a world that seems so distant in time and space and yet sadly is a part of the world we live in now. He teaches the reader so very much about the Tibetan culture and the Chinese Cultural Revolution through his books while weaving a tale of intrigue and surprise twists. Pattison's stories tell of man's weaknesses and also celebrate the power of compassion and spirituality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ellen on August 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
Beautiful Ghosts

Author: Eliot Pattison
Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Inspector Shan Tao Yun although released from a work camp in Tibet is still nonetheless considered a persona non-grata in the eyes of many. Attending a ceremony to rededicate an ancient ruined monastery he finds evidence that a murder too place at this revered sites. While imprisoned he aligned himself with monks also sentence to hard labor. Throughout the novel the Skull Mantra we learn more about these monks, Buddhism and how Shan embraces them. Religion, which is punishable by law by the People's Republic, comes into play. In the Skull Mantra we meet Colonel tan and once again in Beautiful Ghosts he resurfaces. Tan is searching for lost antiquities.

As the story opens the hill people have been summoned to the ruins of Zhoka gompa for this celebration. It is the Dalai Lama's birthday. But, what sets off the chain of events is when a herder brings the body of Atso, also a herder stating that god killers committed the murder. As Surya sheds his ropes and is covered with bloods, leaving the area and not wanting to be a monk anymore, Shan delves into the murder, the investigation and will once again meet Tan. But, there is much more to come as things heat up once again and Gendon and Lokesh need his help and Shan will take many journeys before this is all played out.

The author leads the reader and Shan down a stairway that opens into two separate chambers. Each of the chambers holds secrets, death, items dear to the monks and blood patterns alerting the reader that a murder took place here and bones were stored that were many years old. Just how this links to the present still remains to be seen.
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More About the Author

Eliot Pattison has been described as a "writer of faraway mysteries," a label which is particularly apt for someone whose travel and interests span such a broad spectrum. After reaching a million miles of global trekking, visiting every continent but Antarctica, Pattison stopped logging his miles and set his compass for the unknown. Today he avoids well-trodden paths whenever possible, in favor of wilderness, lesser known historical venues, and encounters with indigenous peoples.

An international lawyer by training, early in his career Pattison began writing on legal and business topics, producing several books and dozens of articles published on three continents. In the late 1990's he decided to combine his deep concerns for the people of Tibet with his interest in venturing into fiction by writing The Skull Mantra. Winning the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery--and listed as a finalist for best novel for the year in Dublin's prestigious IMPAC awards--The Skull Mantra launched the Inspector Shan series, which now includes Water Touching Stone, Bone Mountain, Beautiful Ghosts, The Prayer of the Dragon, Mandarin Gate, and the Soul of Fire. Both The Skull Mantra and Water Touching Stone were selected by for its annual list of ten best new mysteries. Water Touching Stone was selected by Booksense as the number one mystery of all time for readers' groups. Mandarin Gate was selected as one of the best mysteries of 2012 by Amazon, CNN and Publishers Weekly. The Inspector Shan series has been translated into over twenty languages around the world.

Pattison entered China for the first time within weeks of normalization of relations with the United States in 1980 and during his many return visits to China and neighboring countries developed the intense interest in the rich history and culture of the region that is reflected in these books. They have been characterized as creating a new "campaign thriller" genre for the way they weave significant social and political themes into their plots. Indeed, as soon as the novels were released they became popular black market items in China for the way they highlight issues long hidden by Beijing.

Pattison's longtime interest in another "faraway" place -the 18th century American wilderness and its woodland Indians-- led to the launch of his Bone Rattler series, which quickly won critical acclaim for its poignant presentation of Scottish outcasts and Indians during the upheaval of the French and Indian War. In Pattison's words, "this was an extraordinary time that bred the extraordinary people who gave birth to America," and the lessons offered by the human drama in that long-ago wilderness remain fresh and compelling today.

A former resident of Boston and Washington, Pattison resides on an 18th century farm in Pennsylvania with his wife, three children, and an ever-expanding menagerie of animals. For more information, visit:

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