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Bone Mountain: A Novel (Inspector Shan Tao Yun) Paperback – May 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

Shan, an ex-police inspector who spent years in a Chinese prison, is the intriguing protagonist of this literary thriller set in the stunning and rarely portrayed landscape of modern Tibet. While Shan's search for a stolen sacred relic in a Himalayan valley whose underground wealth is the center of explorations by a Sino-American oil consortium provides the novel's central plot, the real crime, Beijing's efforts to eradicate the remnants of Tibet's spiritual and cultural heritage, is more fully and engagingly portrayed. The central motif of the novel--Shan's travels with a salt caravan, at first guarding and then searching for the relic after it mysteriously disappears-- becomes a journey toward enlightenment whose denouement is more than worth the trip for readers who opt to suspend disbelief and travel with Shan and his companions to the centuries-old cave of the medicine lamas. Bone Mountain is a rich, complicated, and original exploration into the extraordinary power of belief, faith, and the triumph of the human spirit, as complex and compelling as Tibet itself. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this third suspenseful mystery-thriller from Edgar winner Pattison (The Skull Mantra; Water Touching Stone), discredited former Beijing police investigator Shan Tao Yun, unofficially released from a central Tibetan gulag, is now living with a group of outlaw Buddhist monks, some of whom helped him through his most unbearable prison experiences. In gratitude he and his friend, the renegade monk Lokesh, agree to escort a stolen religious artifact to the remote Yapchi Valley, the site, coincidentally, of international oil explorations, from which an American engineer has disappeared. Chinese plans to clear the valley and relocate its farmers and sheepherders to cities will profit the mining project and aid the Chinese "in another effort to pry Tibet's collective fingers from its rosary." Just as the holy artifact is a mystical symbol of Tibetan culture and Buddhism, so the multilayered story is imbued with Tibetan belief, civilization and politics. Readers with little knowledge of Tibet's religion and history may have difficulty following the plot with its large cast of varied, well-drawn Tibetans, Chinese and Americans, countless treks through rugged, stunning landscapes and the numerous side plots including several murders some of which are red herrings. Pattison's empathy for the cause of Tibetan independence is admirable, but it often overwhelms his story. The book, which is far too long and discursive, becomes a polemic that dilutes Shan's search for the truth.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Shan Tao Yun (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312330898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312330897
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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:

Customer Reviews

Such was the case when Eliot Pattison's debut novel THE SKULL MANTRA won the prestigious Edgar Award.
For persons who may have problems with the destruction of culture, genocide of peoples, corruption of government, this book will be painful to read.
Tempe Mindspring
It probably helps that I have visited Tibet and done some reading on the struggle of the Tibetans against the Chinese.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on October 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Once in a while a great novel receives recognition for its inherent stature. Such was the case when Eliot Pattison's debut novel THE SKULL MANTRA won the prestigious Edgar Award. His second novel, WATER TOUCHING STONE, would have won if THE SKULL MANTRA hadn't; I mean, you can't keep handing the trophy over to the same guy, even if he deserves it. But the plain and simple truth is that no one is doing quite what Pattison is doing, and no one is doing what they do quite as well as what Pattison is doing.
If you are by chance unfamiliar with Pattison, or either of the aforementioned novels, you could certainly jump on with BONE MOUNTAIN. Although BONE MOUNTAIN is a continuation of the themes and characters introduced and explored in THE SKULL MANTRA and WATER TOUCHING STONE, BONE MOUNTAIN stands quite well on its own, as Pattison continues to amaze and astound with some of the most compelling prose out there This is a man who has a love for the written language. while his words flow with a poetic verve that is by turns beatific and terrible --- depending on his subject matter --- this is not prose that lends itself to a hurried or cursory reading. Pattison does not satisfy accuracy at the altar of experience. The reader comes away from each sitting with BONE MOUNTAIN intellectually challenged and culturally richer, as Pattison continues to explore the land, the mystery, and the tragedy that is Tibet.
BONE MOUNTAIN continues the process of shouldering Pattison out of genre adulation and into mainstream attention. And if he brings attention through these novels to the plight of the Tibetan people, then he will accomplish the task that he perhaps set out to perform to begin with.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on September 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Disgraced Chines police investigator Shan Tao Yun knows he owes the Buddhist monks his life as they have made his insufferable prison exile tolerable. So when they ask him to deliver a religious idol to a sacred place in the Yapchi Valley, he readily assents to taking the artifact to its home. Renegade monk Lokesh also agrees to accompany Shan on the trek.

However, the journey, which is arduous, turns tragic when someone murders the guide. Shan learns that in Yapchi Valley, the Americans drill for oil, but the female engineer has fled the area. Adding to his bewilderment is that the Chinese army wants the return of the idol stolen from them before it fosters Buddhist teachings over Party lessons and in turn nurture dissent. In this mess, Shan seeks justice, but the Americans, the Chinese, and the Tibetans each have their own definition.

The third Shan tale provides the audience with an interesting mystery that is overshadowed by insight into the region, especially the Tibetan question, but the story line can be difficult to follow because of the deep cerebral look at Buddhism and Communism. Still the who-done-it is intriguing and Shan remains a fascinating lead protagonist, but Eliot Pattison's novel is more for those in the audience wanting a better understanding of life at the top of the world.

Harriet Klausner
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Eliot Pattison's books are unlike any other books that I have ever read. Having thoroughly enjoyed his two recent works set in Tibet and adjacent regions, entitled The Skull Mantra, and Water Touching Stone, I was very eager to read Bone Mountain.
The main impression one gets is of a gentle religious teaching disguised as a mystery novel. If one is open to Mr. Pattison's exposition of Tibetan Buddhism, which seems entirely consistent with the other readings and experiences of your reviewer, an admitted outsider, one cannot help but admire the compassion and gentleness of most of the Tibetan characters, and indeed of many of the Han Chinese. There are quiet miracles, small answered prayers, and descriptions of meditation that are calming to read. The cumulative effect is like walking in the mountains or hearing beautiful music, completely independent of the who-killed-the-guys theme.
The pacing of the book is better, I thought, than in Water Touching Stone. Again, there are several key geographical locations that are introduced and described. An eco-consciousness theme is more obvious than in the previous novels. The action shifts back and forth between these various locales, but this time they are close together, accessed on foot, and related historically, religously, and even geologically to each other. The modern world again intrudes, and, in fact, the integration of the timeless Tibetan religious themes with helicopters, computers, and Westerners is a real challange which by and large is handled convincingly.
The book can be read and enjoyed on several levels. Personally, I enjoyed "the journey" of Shan and his companions so much I really did not care whether the mystery was solved. I intend to buy several copies as gifts.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By faithful urban reader on February 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have read Mr. Patison's first two Tibetan mysteries and found them compelling and heartbreaking in terms of their portrayal of Tibetan culture under the Chinese occupation. Sadly, I could not finish Bone Mountain (over 200 pages in) because in this particular case, the political position Mr. Patison advances (one I am in agreement with, by the way) just swamps any attempt at creating a mystery novel. I would willingly read a non-fiction book by Mr. Patison regarding the Chinese occupation of Tibet and I would like to go on reading his mystery series, but in this case it was literally too painful to go on. More mystery, less politics in the next ones, please.
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