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.
In Eliot Pattison’s Shan series, the rich heritages of China and Tibet form a fascinating backdrop. The books capture the many dimensions of the Tibet/China struggle and touch upon the wonderfully complex world of Tibetan Buddhism -- not so much in its modern theological elements as in the way it has defined culture and human behavior. The Buddhists in Pattison’s crime fiction are rooted in the very old, unreformed sects of Tibet, not simply because their beliefs lend themselves to the mystery of the books, but because they reflect most vividly how remote and starkly different Tibetan culture was before the People's Liberation Army arrived. The stories are balanced with the perspectives of Shan, a Chinese protagonist who himself has been victimized by the government and is as shaken by what Beijing has done in Tibet as any Tibetan native. The books don’t ignore the gnawing, dehumanizing effect that Beijing's occupation of Tibet has had on the Chinese officials who administer it. Shan has a mystery to solve but, as he has learned from his Tibetan friends, his challenge isn't simply to find an answer but to find it with dignity and compassion.