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Mandarin Gate (Inspector Shan #7)

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  403 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
In Mandarin Gate, Edgar Award winner Eliot Pattison brings Shan back in a thriller that navigates the explosive political and religious landscape of Tibet.

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 fr
ebook, 320 pages
Published November 27th 2012 by Minotaur Books (first published November 1st 2012)
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P.D.R. Lindsay
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
How nice, another inspector Shan story. Well, it's a story about Tibet really and what is happening in Tibet and that made me so angry and so sad.

From the fictional point of view this is another good solid piece of writing from a writer who chooses his words carefully and puts them together with a poet's ear.

The story is dramatic and the plot twists and jinks so that it is very hard to outguess Shan as he tries to sort out why one lama dies and who killed the three bodies found in the old conven
Inspector Shan, once a crime investigator in Beijing, is now to quote him "an official damned inspector of dams" in Tibet. There were some wonderful characters and some interesting Buddhist practices, but from a plot perspective, I could have wished for more believability. Readers are asked to swallow some incredible stupidity on the part of the Chinese regime in Mandarin Gate. I am willing to believe that Chinese government functionaries can be corrupt, but not idiotic. Chinese government decis ...more
I really love this mystery writer. He has two series. The older series is about Shan, a Chinese detective, cast off from China and in love with Tibet. The series is powerful and troubling. The author knows a lot about Tibet. I suspect his visits there in the 1980s were for a Western government. He remains deeply alarmed by the Chinese campaign to wipe out a culture, a language, and a religion, but he always has at least one Chinese character who is different from the government. In this mystery ...more
May 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Die große Sünde

Shan und Lokesh helfen bei Wiederaufbau alter tibetischer Schreine. Dabei haben sie die Bekanntschaft mit einem Lama geschlossen, dessen kluge und vorsichtige Handlungen in ihren Augen von großer Erleuchtung zeugen. An einem besonders schönen Tag muss Shan entsetzt mit ansehen wie sich eben jener Lama vor seinen Augen erschießt, eine der größten Sünden, die ein tibetischer Mönch begehen kann. Was kann nur die Ursache für diese Tat sein. Sofort macht Shan sich ins nahe gelegene Klo
Margaret Sankey
Pattison's former Inspector Shan is a post-Cold War, Chinese character in the mold of Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko--a Beijing detective who crossed the wrong politician and ended up in a Tibetan prison camp, from which he was called to sort out further embarrassing crimes and protests against the Chinese occupation. In this volume, Shan is out of the gulag, tasked as a ditch inspector among the Tibetan people who have grown to accept him as a reasonable person who is just as disgusted by the ...more
Nov 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another solid entry in Pattison's Inspector Chan series. 

In this case, I read more for the fascinating descriptions of Tibet than for the mysteries, but the mysteries hold their own.

I read this immediately following Bone Rattler, which Pattison sets in his own country's history, and I find I prefer his take on Tibet than the history with which he is probably more familiar.
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I always enjoy Eliot Pattison's book series featuring Inspector Shan - an exiled Chinese police officer in Tibet. This was a particularly good addition in the series as it introduced a new character Lieutenant Meng. I hope she will return in another book and add to the help Shan receives from some very unlikely people. Highly recommend this book and the entire series.
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mandarin Gate: Eliot Patterson

Life for continues to be difficult for Shan Tao Yun. Once a formidable Inspector stationed in Beijing, finally released from a work camp hoping to create some type of life for himself. But, the story opens in an unusual way where he meets him and two monks getting ready for a celebration and the reopening of a shrine. As one monk is chasing a thief and hopes to get back his bounty, Shan and Lokesh the other monk assist him in his quest. But, what happens next will n
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This the first book of this detective series I have read. It was so good because it really told me so much of the Chinese occupation of that land. That occupation is evil in its abuse of the culture and lives of Tibetans.

The story was involving with characters to care about and missions to be passionate about.
Marc Severson
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pattison has become my favorite author. The interplay of the strangeness of Tibet and its way of life juxtaposed against a good mystery novel always keeps me interested.
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review posted at Layers of Thought.

An elegant and literary whodunit, set against the backdrop of China’s brutal crushing of Tibetan society and beliefs.

Description: Shan used to be a police inspector in Beijing, but was imprisoned in a remote Tibetan jail after he ran afoul of a powerful figure in the Chinese Government. After being unofficially released, he has to remain in Tibet without status or official identity, unable to return home to Beijing. He now lives among outlawed Buddhist
Luanne Ollivier
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every once in a while it's good to step out of my reading comfort zone and pick up something different. The something different this time was Eliot Pattison's latest book Mandarin Gate.

This is the seventh book featuring Pattison's recurring character Shan Tao Yun. Shan was once an Police Inspector in Beijing, but was too good at his job. Corrupt officials sent him to one of the harshest work camps where he was taken under the wing of a Tibetan monk. Shan has embraced their philosophy and way of
This is a well-written mystery thriller that has as its theme, the Sinification of Tibet and its citizens by the Peoples Republic of China. The main character, Shan, is a former criminal investigator, who followed a chain of corruption too close to the upper ranks of the Communist Party, and was, as a result, sentenced to a hard-labor prison camp. It was in this camp that he became close to Tibetan lamas and priests and found himself "reincarnated" as a Tibetan Buddhist. Shan now lives in Tibet ...more
Gloria Feit
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Inspector Shan series continues with a double-barreled story: an enigmatic murder mystery and a deep-seated description of the destruction of Tibetan culture and society. And Shan attempts only to seek the truth in face of the power of the state and his doubts of his own identity and role in Tibet.

It begins with the discovery of three murder victims, two men and a Tibetan nun, in a very old monastery which is being restored. Then a lama commits suicide while Shan is with him. None of these t
Eliot Pattison is a lawyer in the American Northeast who has written several series of novels and other books. The ones I am most familiar with are the Inspector Shan novels. They are set in Tibet and feature a former Chinese investigator from Beijing who runs afoul of very powerful individuals and is punished by being sent to a harsh forced labour prison in Tibet. There he survives by grace of the Buddhist monks who take him under their wing. This sets into play a fascinating perspective on Tib ...more
Bliss and kinetic violence all in the same nano-second-that's how the first chapter ends. Prepare yourself for a long and serpentine trip to find the truth. A good melding of mystery, political intrigue, and Buddhism. The always inscrutable Shan is once again in the midst of solving three murders that no one really wants solved. Shan is the ditch inspector but gets involved due to personal reasons. This mystery has many layers and you're never quite sure where it's going. At times it's mesmerizi ...more
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm on an Elliot Pattison kick. His books about the political and social landscape of modern Tibet under the boot of Communist China are heartbreaking and fascinating (and very well written). The two factors I can always count on when reading an Inspector Shan novel are an interesting and unusual mystery set amidst a background of the oppression of the Tibetan people that followed the takeover of the country by China and continues today. The book details how the lives of the invaders and the inv ...more
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had everything! Historical context, cultural context, a complex and well developed plot, and believable characters. This is the best book I have read recently. It's set in Tibet where the clash of cultures between the Chinese and the Tibetans creates the backdrop for a murder mystery. The main character is Chinese, but has great empathy for the Tibetans and their culture. He was an investigator in Beijing where his murder investigation led him to the wrong party member and he ended up ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I think I love the Inspector Shan books more for their characters and atmosphere than for the stories or mysteries. The stories are compelling enough to keep me reading, but what I find most is compelling is Shan's struggle with being Chinese in his adopted home of Tibet--being the fox in the hen house, so to speak. I've visited Beijing twice, 30 years apart, and the China that first intrigued me, seems just about gone now. The China that Shan represents. The landscape of the Tibet I visited loo ...more
Juneau Public Library
Shan Tao Yun, formerly an inspector in Beijing, has been banished to Tibet in disgrace. China considers Tibet to be one of its autonomous regions, but in reality, many Tibetans live in persecution under Chinese authority. When a crime is committed and evidence is covered up by Chinese police, Shan begins his own investigation, during which a tender friendship develops between the Chinese investigator, who has immersed himself in Tibetan Buddhist life and belief, and one of the Tibetan monks he m ...more
Rita	 Marie
I stumbled upon this book in the "new mysteries" section of the library; it seemed worth a try. I liked it, but I didn't love it, and I'm not sure why. The setting is fascinating -- Tibet invaded by the Chinese and all the horrors that came after (which the author assures us in a postscript are completely factual), the plot is madly complex, and it takes to the very end to find out who did what and why. I guess the problem is the characters; they all seem rather flat and uninteresting. Many are ...more
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not sure
I didn't realize that this book was in a series until I put it in here on goodreads. Maybe if I had started at book one, I would have liked it better. I just found it hard to get into and really care about the characters. I have read a lot about China but was not aware of the ethnic struggles between China and Tibet. It was also hard to believe that this book takes place in modern times with the mention of the internet when it could easily have taken place in the 1950s! Even earlier possibly wit ...more
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Essentially, this is a mystery, but for me the mysteries in this series are secondary. What I love about the Shan series is its portrayal of life in Tibet. I learn so much about Tibet from these stories: its geography, its culture, Tibetan Buddhism, and Chinese policies in the region. Much is heartbreaking, but there's nobility too. A worthwhile read for anyone with even a passing interest in Tibet.
Mary Ahlgren
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Eliot Pattison's books for a variety of reasons. Mandarin Gate drew me right in. I have noticed that reading any of Pattison's books demands slowness, appropriate for the themes and subtexts of his very interesting stories. I appreciate especially that no culture is pure evil or only good. And I thank him for keeping Tibet in my awareness. Genocide is clearly present on this earth, and we must remember that wherever it is happening.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-groups
Not my cup of (yak butter) tea. I read this for my Peace Corps book group, but found it trite, badly written, and generally annoying. The characters are flat, the dialog is stilted, and the descriptions of the landscape-- which I am sure is stunning-- make it sound dull. Nonetheless the Tibetan cultural & political backdrop was compelling and the storyline just barely interesting enough to keep me going to the end.
Patti K
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Thankfully, Pattison has returned to his Tibetan series with Shan. It
was like a reunion with an old friend. He portrays the contemporary
scene in Tibet with all the Chinese oppression, forced changes, and
internment camps. Yet reading about the Tibetan people and their
enduring customs is enjoyable. The landscape as always features as
a character in the story. I recommend.
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shan is working as a ditch inspector in a remote area of Tibet when three bodies are found on the grounds of an old temple. The attempts to solve the crime pit him against agents of the Chinese government who have their own more sinister agenda. A vivid picture of contemporary Tibet and an excellent addition to a terrific series.
Timothy Freigant
I thought this book had some good twists but for me it was too slow. I had to read it twice to try to understand the plot and I am still a little hazy about the whole story. This is my first book I read of his so I am going to give it a 3 because I am giving him the benefit of a doubt and going to try to read the second one. My OCD won't allow me to quit. I like finish what I started.
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a fan of Pattison's work for years, but I was a little disappointed by this book; maybe Pattison is getting tired of the series. His plot devices were creaky here and there, also his characterizations. Nevertheless I find his picture of Tibet under Chinese rule terrifically interesting. This book takes place after the railroad was opened across Tibet, so the politics are contemporary.
Kris Kaushik
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent contribution in the Shan series. Pattison's descriptions of Tibet are heart-wrenching but somehow he manages to find a positive and uplifting silver lining. What is happening to Tibet is sad but Pattison's story-telling makes it gripping all the way through to the end. His earlier books often ended a bit lamely but this one is superb! Well worth reading and thinking about.
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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 (9 books)
  • The Skull Mantra (Inspector Shan, #1)
  • Water Touching Stone (Inspector Shan, #2)
  • Bone Mountain (Inspector Shan, #3)
  • Beautiful Ghosts (Inspector Shan, #4)
  • Prayer of the Dragon (Inspector Shan, #5)
  • The Lord of Death (Inspector Shan, #6)
  • Soul of the Fire (Inspector Shan, #8)
  • Skeleton God (Inspector Shan, #9)