A Mystery in Tibet: “Mandarin Gate”

We were delighted to read the recent novel Mandarin Gate by Eliot Pattison, which yet again brings back Inspector Shan to life in an excellent whodunit. Set in some Tibetan remote setting, this is a refreshing read and departure from usual mysteries.

A Brief Summary:

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 has just begun to settle into his menial job as an inspector of irrigation and sewer ditches in a remote Tibetan township when he encounters a wrenching crime scene. Strewn across the grounds of an old Buddhist temple undergoing restoration are the bodies of two unidentified men and a Tibetan nun. Shan quickly realizes that the murders pose a riddle the Chinese police might in fact be trying to cover up.

When he discovers that a nearby village has been converted into a new internment camp for Tibetan dissidents arrested in Beijing’s latest pacification campaign, Shan recognizes the dangerous landscape he has entered. To find justice for the victims and to protect an American woman who witnessed the murders, Shan must navigate through the treacherous worlds of the internment camp, the local criminal gang, and the government’s rabid pacification teams, while coping with his growing doubts about his own identity and role in Tibet.

Our Take:

The Edgar-Award winning author Eliot Pattison is a gifted author and the book is a gripper: A journey to a very engaging location which many know only little about. The plot has more weight in this book than character development and the author uses the narrative to highlight some of the political and social issues in Tibetan life today.

Overall, a great book which will not disappoint…

Our Rating: 4.0

Like Books By Eliot Pattison?

You can check out the following titles by this author as well. Click on the images to go to Amazon page for each book.

One reply on “ A Mystery in Tibet: “Mandarin Gate” ”
  1. Hello! I came across your thoughtful review of Mandarin Gate by Eliot Pattison wondered if you might be interested in a copy of his new book in the series, Skeleton God, for review consideration.

    In this chilling installment of the series, Inspector Shan is drawn into the secret of an ancient tomb, holding a gilded saint buried centuries ago, and flanked by the remains of an American man murdered only hours earlier.

    Skeleton God has already received stellar advance praise:

    Edgar winner Pattison remains without peer at integrating a fairplay whodunit into a searing portrayal of life under an oppressive and capricious regime, as shown by his ninth Insp. Shan Tao Yun mystery. Even readers unfamiliar with the physical and cultural devastation China has wrought in Tibet will find themselves engrossed—and moved—by Pattison’s nuanced portrayal. – Publishers Weekly *Starred Review*

    Pattison’s ninth installment provides an important history lesson little understood in the West with authority, nuance, and genuine suspense. – Kirkus Reviews

    Looking forward to your thoughts!

    all best,
    Julia Drake

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