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About the Book

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (May 1, 2004)
ISBN-10: 0312330898
ISBN-13: 978-0312330897

Deep in the heart of Tibet, Shan Tao Yun, an exiled Chinese national and a former Beijing government Inspector, is caught between the brutal Chinese army and a Western oil company. Shan has agreed to lead an expedition to return the eye of an idol, stolen almost a century ago and recently, clandestinely recovered, to a distant valley, an act that will fulfill an important Tibetan prophecy. But the pilgrimage turns into a desperate flight when the monk who is to lead them is murdered. Shan also discovers that the stone was stolen back from a brigade of the Chinese army that is now in hot pursuit.

Still possessing an investigator's love of truth, Shan faces a perplexing tangle of mysteries. Why are the Chinese so desperate to retrieve the stone eye, why has an American geologist abandoned the oil company's drilling project and fled into the mountains, and why are rumors sweeping the countryside that an ancient lama is returning to liberate this country? As he digs into these questions, Shan realizes that there is more at stake than mere justice: the spiritual survival of his people is in danger as well.

Complex and compelling, Bone Mountain is a spectacular achievement from a major voice in crime fiction.




From the Author

While Bone Mountain is a work of fiction, the struggle of the Tibetan people to maintain their spiritual and cultural identity is all too real. There is indeed a Bureau of Religious Affairs which deploys a small army of bureaucrats against the practice of spirituality and ritual in everyday life and licenses monks based on their political, not their religious faith, The lands of Tibet have suffered as severely as its people. It is no coincidence that Beijing's maps refer to Tibet as Zizang, its Western Treasure House. Sacred mountains have been deforested then leveled for their mineral content, scores of thousands of Chinese miners have displaced traditional farmer and herders and more than a few Tibetans have been imprisoned for trying to prevent bulldozers from despoiling their sacred grounds.

For onver a thousand years Tibetan medicine drew from a vast pharmacopoeia of Tibetan herbs and Buddhist teachers to uniquely integrate the spiritual and physical aspects of healing. Sophisticated medical colleges taught noninvasive diagnostic methods and treatments unknown in the West. That rich legacy has been largely annihilated in the Chinese occupation, many of its treasured texts and teachings lost forever. But a handful of medicine lamas did indeed survive by fleeing to India, where they quietly labor to piece together the remnants of those important traditions.

Readers interested in learning more about the struggle of the Tibetan people will find excellent overviews in Tsering Shakya's The Dragon in the Land of Snows. Many powerful autobiographical tales by or about Tibetan survivors have become available in recent years, including Ama Adhe: The Voice that Remembers by Ahde Tapontsang and Joy Blakeslee, Sumner Carnahan's In the Presence of My Enemies, David Patt's A Strange Liberation: Tibetan Lives in Chinese Hands, Born in Lhasa by Namgyal Lhamo Taklha, and The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk by Palden Gyatso. The forces at work against Tibet's natural environment are comprehensively reviewed in Tibet 2000: Environment and Development Issues, available from the International Campaign for Tibet. Introductions to the remarkable traditions of Tibetan medicine are offered in Terry Clifford's Tibetan Buddhist Medicine and Psychiatry and Healing from the Source by Dr. Yeshi Dhonden. Lastly, readers who wish to further explore how Tibetan Buddhists blend sand and deities would find a valuable starting place in David Cozort's Mandala of Vajrabhairava.



Reviews

"Pattison has taken a plot of an old-fashioned thriller and turned it into a glimpse into a culture that is so rooted in kindness and respect for the individual that its destruction is an affront to all humanity...Thrilling and riveting."
--Denver Post


Thoughts of Tibet conjure up great sweeping vistas of snow-capped mountains, but the land of blue sheep and Buddhist lamas is also a place of secret caves and hidden valleys where plants used in an ancient medical tradition that treats both body and soul flourish even as knowledge of their properties is lost under China's brutal occupation. It's the concealed power of Tibet, the enduring glory of the abused land and the courage of the resistance movement that fights to keep Tibetan Buddhism and its healing arts alive, that fires Pattison's imagination and compassion, inspiring his series featuring the valiant Shan, formerly a Beijing investigator, now a lama's disciple. The saga begun in The Skull Mantra (1999) and continued in Water Touching Stone...flows on in Pattison's third soulful mystery, in which Shan is entrusted with returning the stone eye of a deity, a quixotic assignment that entails journeys both physical and spiritual and involves resourceful Tibetan rebels, a renegade American diplomat, an ancient medicine lama, and a ruthless Chinese army officer. Reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings with its quirky band of seekers traversing majestic yet treacherous landscapes, Pattison's densely plotted and incredibly detailed novel induces his entranced readers to care deeply about both his compelling characters and long-suffering Tibet.
-- Donna Seaman


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.

Pattison's protagonist is Shan Tao Lun, a former Beijing inspector who is living in exile in Tibet. The brutal subjection of Tibet by the Red Chinese over the last half-century is one of the great underreported stories of our modern time; one would think that a religious persecution resulting in the murder of over one million human beings would be newsworthy -- I mean, if Richard Gere can get it, anybody can -- but the silence frmo all quarters remains deafening. That tapping you hear at the edge of the periphery is Pattison, writing. Through Shan, he presents anecdotes of unspeakable brutality, but even more importantly, examples of quiet, heart-stopping courage in the face of adversity. It is impossible to read of Shan and the Buddhist monks who have taken him in without feeling admiration for his, and their, grace under circumstance and shame for the complaints of minor inconvenience -- dropped cell calls, traffic jams, secondhand smoke -- occasioned by the benefits of our way of life.

Bone Mountain opens with Shan preparing to accompany a pilgrimage to return "the jagged eye" of a venerated idol to its original habitat, an act full of symbolic and prophetic significance. The eye, stolen almost a century before, has been recently recovered. What Shan is initially unaware of is that the recovery of the eye involved its being "stolen" from a brigade of the Red Chinese army -- and the brigade wants the stone back. When the monk leading the pilgrimage is brutally murdered, what was once a careful, secretive pilgrimage becomes a headlong flight from an adversary whose power is matched only by its cruelty and ruthlessness.

Shan, at the same time, is at heart an "inspector," or investigator. He has a love of truth, and his devotion to truth results in his being an outcast. And that love of truth causes him to wonder: Why is the Red Chinese army so desperate to retrieve the stone eye? What role does an American oil company's drilling project have, and why has a geologist from that company abandoned the camp and fled into the mountains? And are any of these events connected to a rumor that an ancient, venerated lama is returning to Tibet to liberate his beleaguered nation?

Pattison gives his readers answers, true, but the beauty of his talent is in his framing of the questions. This is a man who has a love for the written language, and 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 Stone 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.


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