Cover image for Beautiful ghosts
Beautiful ghosts
Pattison, Eliot.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 2004.
Physical Description:
360 pages : maps ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In an earlier time, Shan Tao Yun was an Inspector stationed in Beijing. But he lost his position, his family and his freedom when he ran afoul of a powerful figure high in the Chinese government. Released unofficially from the work camp to which he'd been sentenced, Shan has been living in remote mountains of Tibet with a group of outlawed Buddhist monks. Without status, official identity, or the freedom to return to his former home in Beijing, Shan finds himself in the midst of a baffling series of events. During a ceremony meant to rededicate an ancient and long destroyed monastery, Shan stumbles across evidence of a recent murder in the ruins. Now Shan is being torn between some officials who want his help to search the ruins while others want him to disappear back into the mountains - with one group holding out the tantalizing prospect of once again seeing the son from whom Shan has been separated for many years.
In a baffling situation where nothing is what it appears to be, where the FBI, high ranking Beijing officials, the long hidden monks, and the almost forgotten history of the region all pull him in different directions, Shan finds his devotion to the truth sorely tested. Traveling from Tibet to Beijing to the U.S., he must find the links between murder on two continents, a high profile art theft, and an enigmatic, long-missing figure from history.

Author Notes

Eliot Pattison is the author of The Skull Mantra , which won the Edgar Award and was a finalist for the Gold Dagger , as well Water Touching Stone and Bone Mountain . Pattison is a world traveler and frequent visitor to China, and his numerous books and articles on international policy issues have been published around the world.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Once again Shan Tao Yun--former Beijing government inspector and political prisoner, now a conspicuous member of the Tibetan resistance--finds himself embroiled in a death-defying and cosmic investigation. As in the brilliantly conceived and executed Bone Mountain (2002) and the two preceding tales in this unparalleled series, Pattison illuminates a particular aspect of Tibetan Buddhism, focusing here on the sacred art found in ingeniously designed underground earth-taming temples. Shan and his fellow travelers (fearless lamas; an intrepid Tibetan woman activist; and two against-type investigators, one Chinese, the other an FBI agent) discover that not only have such holy places been targeted for destruction by the occupying Chinese, they are also threatened by unscrupulous art collectors, specifically a corrupt Beijing museum director and a maniacal Seattle-based computer magnate. Woven into this complex and suspenseful tale of murder, theft, spirituality, political oppression, and cultural collisions is the moving story of Shan's reunion with his son and the tales of two intriguing, Tibet-loving historical figures, a Chinese emperor and an early-twentieth-century British colonel. Erudite, eloquent, and entertaining, Pattison thrills both mystery enthusiasts and readers fascinated by, and concerned about, Tibet. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. Agent, Natasha Kern. (Apr. 16) FYI: The first book in the series, Skull Mantra (1999), won an Edgar for Best First Novel. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved