HBalikov's Reviews > The Skull Mantra

The Skull Mantra by Eliot Pattison
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's review
Oct 09, 2009

it was amazing
Read in October, 2009

A first class mystery! A Chinese political prisoner, now on a road gang in Tibet finds himself forced to investigate a beheading when the corpse turns up on the construction site. I learned a lot about Tibet history and its people, and almost as much about Buddhism. Pattison does this while not breaking the plot. He has a great sense of characterization and, at the end, you don't doubt that things happened in the way they did. One question remains: How soon do I pick up another of his books?

Aside: This stuff is always a matter of taste. I have read some of the other reviews and would respond in this way:
There is no significant torture described though there is enough implied. I am often put off by the opening scenes in the TV series, Bones, but this was not of that level of description or visualization.

The argument that this book resembles some of Tony Hillerman's, except for location, seems valid. Particularly in the clash of two cultures. Hillerman's books were not all at the same level of storytelling. If you like Hillerman, you might enjoy this as well.

Another review noted that Shan is a similar character to Martin Cruz Smith's Akady Renko. This is particularly true in the same sense as a classic Philip Marlowe. We have the crusading knight out to discover the truth - no matter what the cost. Like Renko he has to battle an often hostile bureaucracy. If you liked Polar Star, you might enjoy this as well.
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