In Eliot Pattison's Soul of the Fire, When Shan Tao Yun and his old friend Lokesh are abruptly dragged away by Public Security, he is convinced that their secret, often illegal, support of struggling Tibetans has brought their final ruin. But his fear turns to confusion as he discovers he has been chosen to fill a vacancy on a special international commission investigating Tibetan suicides. Soon he finds that his predecessor was murdered, and when a monk sets himself on fire in front of the commissioners he realizes that the Commission is being used as a tool to whitewash Tibet's self-immolation protests as acts of crime and terrorism. Shan faces an impossible dilemma when the Public Security officer who runs the Commission, Major Ren, orders the imprisoned Lokesh beaten to coerce Shan into following Beijing's script for the Commission. He has no choice but to become part of the hated machine that is devouring Tibet, but when he discovers that the most recent immolation was actually another murder, he realizes the Commission itself is riddled with crime and intrigue. Everywhere he turns, Shan finds new secrets that seem to lead to the last agonizing chapter of his life. Shan must make a final desperate effort to uncover the Commission's terrible secrets whose painful truth could change Shan's life - and possibly that of many Tibetans - forever.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I recommend all of Eliot Pattison's Shan Tao Yun series of mysteries. Each novel is an intricately woven mystery, but much more than that. Like the earlier books, this eighth installment brings the reader into intimate contact with the continuing destruction of traditional Tibetan culture, especially Buddhist monasteries, as Tibet is made more and more Chinese as a national policy. Some readers may find the books' reality brutal; and that is especially true of this novel, which deals with self-immolation as a form of protest. However, the story is important, and the mystery is compelling. The continuing characters of ex-detective/ex-prisoner/ditch inspector Shan and his elderly friend Lokesh are wonderful; and, in this book, Pattison makes Shan and the reader consider the back stories and relevance to the mystery of a variety of interesting characters who are differently sympathetic to the Tibetans' plight. The reader may come away with a sense of hopelessness but also with an...
Caution. Check your book immediately. I ordered this for a friend, after I had read it in a library copy. When I gave the book to my friend we discovered that the book jacket and the hardcover binding were of Soul of the Fire. The entire content was of another book by another author (quite a bad book!). Amazon will not accept my request for refund/replacement because I had held it beyond their time limit. Pattison is a fine writer and the Shan stories are all good - this my be the best yet. Five stars for book. Amazon gets a baddie.
I eagerly await the arrival of new books in the Shan Tao series. Although billed as mysteries, the mystery is often secondary to the depiction of the struggles of Tibet under Communist Rule. The author conveys his admiration for the Buddhist teachings and the relation among Buddhism, Tibetan culture, and the natural environment. The descriptions of the characters' travels through the countryside are sometimes difficult to follow, so it is best not to get lost in the details. His writing is always deep and compelling
Soul of the Fire is no exception to this pattern. For the first time we see the workings of a Chinese-style "International Commission". Shan's role is less believable than in previous novels, and it is hard to understand how he is able to move so freely within an antagonistic authoritarian structure. His "watcher" is particularly hard to accept. Many of the characters have appeared in other names and bodies in other books.
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