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Beautiful Ghosts (Inspector Shan #4)

4.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  548 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
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, o ...more
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published April 5th 2004 by Minotaur Books (first published 2004)
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By now the pattern of the plots of these Inspector Shan mysteries is well established. We've got the official from Beijing who is corrupt and criminal, who will stop at nothing to achieve his aims. We've got the Chinese official who is the good socialist, who initially appears to be an enemy of Inspector Shan, but in the end proves to be an honest ally. We have the misguided American who during the course of the book is converted to the wisdom and peace of Buddhism. And, of course, we have Shan, ...more
Bob Landry
Sep 19, 2011 Bob Landry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ever had a book that ended so perfectly that you were moved to tears? Read this one and you can add it to your short list.
Apr 02, 2011 Sophie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a theory: the first of these novels has a lower average rating than the later ones. Not, I think, because it's worse than the others, but because while many may pick up the first book of this series, only the ones who like the first book stick with it. (I know, I know - but did I say it was a groundbreaking theory?) And you really should read these books in the right order. And I think if you love this series, you love it wholeheartedly. But then, I can only speak for myself.

For some reas
This is the fourth in the series where Shan., the Han from Beijing who was sent to the Gulag in Tibet because he was too honest, helps his Tibetan Buddhist monk mentors, Lokesh and Gendlun. The usual plot comes forth, there is a misguided American who is converted to the peace of wonders of Buddhism, Corbett, the artist FBI man, an official from the Chinese government who is criminal and corrupt in this case Ming, stealing art, and a Chinese official who is a good socialist mean at first but hon ...more
An Inspector Shan mystery set in Tibet.
It starts off in the same muddled and confusing way that I remember from The Skull Mantra, but it improves; the 2nd half of the book is well plotted and tense, the ending is very moving.
The story involves art theft and the looting of ancient places in Tibet, an ancient ruined monastery, a Chinese emperor and his nephew of more than 200 years ago, and most intriguing, Shan's son who he has not seen since he was a small boy.
I was interested in the "mudras" w
Jan 18, 2010 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another marvelous excursion by Pattison into the world of Tibetan Religion, Chinese oppression and Western Indifference. This particular foray into the evolving world of Comrade Shan confronts Tibetan Art and the avaricious nature of collectors indifferent to the meaning and importance of the art. Once again Pattison astounds with his understanding and sympathy to Buddhism and Tibet as well as his keen insights into the warped vision of totalitarian states.
Once an esteemed investigator in Beijing, Shan Tao Yun spent years imprisoned before he is finally released provisionally. During the prison period, he found peace when through interaction with imprisoned monks. Now living in the hills with Tibetan monks, he encounters a murder in a ruined temple. His involvement is coupled with his desire to protect those who gave him so much yet his past continues to plague him.

In this fictional tale, Shan finds his son, Tibetan treasures, thieves and murdere
Stefan Martiyan
Interesting account of the dynamics found between modern-day China (Han), Tibetan culture and customs, and Western influence. Although the novel is a fiction, it's topic and content are heavily weighted in reality and have a significant impact on the reader.

For a dumbed-down explanation, think of it as a Tibetan Indiana Jones (minus the whip).
Alain Dewitt
Feb 12, 2015 Alain Dewitt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I really enjoy the Inspector Shan series. This is the fourth I've read and I've reviewed the other three so I won't go into too much detail as to why. If you are curious as to why I like the series and the author so much, I invite you to read my other Pattison reviews.

I don't think this one is quite as good as the others. It suffers from a little bit of sameness. About the only departure from the formula is that Pattison introduces Shan's son, now a young man and a convict, to the story. At this
I love this series, set in Tibet where the oppression of the local people and their religion by the Chinese is harsh. Former Beijing Inspector Shan Tao Yun now lives with Lamas and helps solves crimes and mysteries involving them. Lots of spiritual and mystical detail.
William Crosby
Sep 20, 2014 William Crosby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To read passages in this book is to read unspoken thoughts sometimes explained.

The following passage epitomizes for me the basic tenor of the book:

"Some of us are scared, some confused." She drank deeply from her bowl. "You have good raisins."

There is a similar pattern/plot elements to the prior books: monks threatened, somebody/several somebodies dies, Shan investigates many things obliquely, corrupt Han, another Han who initially is hostile but becomes an aid to Shan and some sort of American
Rhonda Pickens

With each book in the Inspector Shan series, my admiration and respect for Eliot Pattison grows. These are so much more than mystery novels. They are meditations on the meaning of life, modern day Purana stories - examples of how to strive toward a compassionate and enlightened self. As a writer, I am humbled by his ability to weave a deep understanding and love for Tibetan culture, in-depth historical research, creative genius, and great wisdom into a written pattern as beautiful a
Sep 01, 2012 Booknblues rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Inspector Shan series by Eliot Pattison and Beautiful Ghosts is the 4th book of the series.

Shan and the outlaw monks are at the abandoned monastery or gompa, Zhoka. The monks have arranged to have a ceremony to re-open it and have Surya the artist and throat singer be the abbot. Unfortunately during the ceremony Surya finds a man who has been murdered and believes he is the one who did it.

The monks had wanted to have Shan do a month long meditation to reconnect with his deity, but since h
Aug 03, 2011 Fran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful Ghosts

Author: Eliot Pattison
Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Inspector Shan Tao Yun although released from a work camp in Tibet is still nonetheless considered a persona non-grata in the eyes of many. Attending a ceremony to rededicate an ancient ruined monastery he finds evidence that a murder too place at this revered sites. While imprisoned he aligned himself with monks also sentence to hard labor. Throughout the novel the Skull Mantra we learn more about these monks, Buddhism and how Shan em
Apr 16, 2008 Maralena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are tired of feeling detached.
So, I remember reading Elliot Pattison's books in the past, and being totally overwhelmed by the complexity of the characters and the plot, and the foreignness of all the names. Reading this book, I found myself pleasantly surprised with my ability to follow what was going on and keep up with it all. I was about three quarters of the way through the book when I realized, oh yes, I have indeed read this book before. The fact that it took me that long to realize it definitely says something about ...more
Kristena West
Jan 28, 2014 Kristena West rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love all inspector Chan mysteries, they go beyond what one would expect. I am always so grateful that the traditions of Buddhism are part of the story line and some of the hidden mysteries are revealed. The problems that Chan faces as a "hidden" Buddhist ex Chinese investigator, are filled with tragedy and moral challenges that hopefully I will never have to face.

In writing these expose's on what China is doing to the Tibetans' Pattison supports the efforts of everyone who is trying to help t
Kathleen Hagen
Beautiful Ghosts: an Inspector Shan Tao Yun Mystery, by Elliott Pattison, A-minus, borrowed from the Library for the Blind.

In this book, Shan Tao must sort out what is happening and why Tibetan friends of his are being murdered. It has to do with rare art created by the Tibetan monks, which China wants to obliterate along with their culture and the continuing power of the Llamas, art which is treasurered by greedy art collectors who will do anything to steal it, and the remaining monks who want
Jean Wagner
Sep 05, 2015 Jean Wagner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love, love, love these books. Not always as well written or tightly plotted as I might wish, but nonetheless an enlightening window into Tibet and its current deplorable reality. Could Mr. Pattison please feed Shan a bit more than a cucumber and a banana in a 3 day trip to the States? Seriously. Otherwise I love Lokesh, Shan and Ko, and even Col. Tan.
Doug Hyden
These books just keep getting better and better. Pattison's work is much like Martin Cruz Smith's, yet neither is derivative of the other. Both are masters of their craft, and their work transcends the genre. They are not among America's best mystery writers--they are among America's best writers, period.
Kathy  Petersen
Marked as a mystery, Beautiful Ghosts does have some sort of mystery; but the other parts of the plot, the setting, and the characters are so convoluted and twisted that the murder and the theft got lost, at least in my brain. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it. Knowing little about Tibet, and aware of the protests that have accompanied the Beijing Olympics torch relay, I was especially interested in that setting and the culture. It's another world from mine, almost like reading one of Ursula LeGuin's wo ...more
Jul 08, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, mystery, tibet
One of the pure pleasures of reading is being transported to another place, and this one certainly fits that bill - it's a haunting portrait of a place and a way of life under siege by outside forces and the relentless march of time. I'll be the first to admit I know beans about Tibet, but Pattison draws the culture and terrain so powerfully that the picture is so intense you can almost feel it as a physical presence. It also happens to be a very sharp mystery as well - the many strands of villa ...more
Yvonne Mcquilkin
Aug 04, 2015 Yvonne Mcquilkin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Not as good S second book.
Chu-Salyer Sharon
I love reading about Inspector Shan, and all of the mysteries he solves in China and Tibet.
Apr 04, 2015 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful Ghosts is beautifully done. I highly recommend this series for its characters and it's ability to plant you deeply in another time and place.
The fourth in the series of Inspector Shan mysteries by Pattison, was good, but seemed more contrived to me than some of the others in the series. As usual, I enjoyed being transported to the borderlands between China and Tibet and swept up into the crazy intrigues of competing factions of the police/military/prison system this time aided by Westerners with their own interests, as there is a race to find old artifacts, after so many years of destruction.
Jun 02, 2014 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I appreciate Eliot Pattison because he offers good mysteries infused with spirituality that is not religious, but rather the kind you associate with "truth." I've read his Inspector Shan series up to Beautiful Ghosts and in every novel there is at least one part that brings me to tears, simply because it touches something deep inside. He has made the people and culture of Tibet real. I look forward to more in this series.
Marsha Altman
Aug 16, 2014 Marsha Altman rated it really liked it
This book is very good, but a little nuts. Pattison has learned to edit himself a bit so the books are a bit more reasonable in length and not so depressing, but this book has a lot of Shan jumping to Beijing overnight and then going to California, then back to Tibet in like ... a day? It's written very quickly, so it feels very quick. The rest of the book is the standard high quality mystery material.
Jan 11, 2011 Dee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One has to read this book slowly. That is a good thing, because this series subject and place, Tibetan monks, Tibet, and the Chinese invasion are all so alien to the Western mode of thinking and acting. At the end of this book, I find myself wanting more of the experience of Tibetan mysticism/spiritualism. What a wonderful perception of the world!
Jul 27, 2011 Sebastian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ein guter Pattison, obwohl das immer wieder gleiche Schema der Reihe langsam zu ermüden beginnt. Die Chinesen sind häufig nur Stereotypen und viele Formulierungen wiederholen sich ständig, was manchmal langweilt. Allzu oft verklärt Pattison Tibet sehr stark, was der Spannung aber keinen Abbruch tut. Lesenswert für Tibet-Fans.
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Edgar Award winning Eliot Pattison has been described as a "writer of faraway mysteries," a label which is particularly apt for someone whose travel and interests span a million miles of global trekking, visiting every continent but Antarctica.

An international lawyer by training, Pattison first combined his deep concerns for the people of Tibet with his interest in fiction writing in The Skull Ma
More about Eliot Pattison...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Shan (8 books)
  • The Skull Mantra (Inspector Shan, #1)
  • Water Touching Stone (Inspector Shan, #2)
  • Bone Mountain (Inspector Shan, #3)
  • Prayer of the Dragon (Inspector Shan, #5)
  • The Lord of Death (Inspector Shan, #6)
  • Mandarin Gate (Inspector Shan, #7)
  • Soul of the Fire (Inspector Shan, #8)

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