Friday, July 8, 2011

The Skull Mantra, by Eliot Pattison, 1999

This was part of my reading for a book set to accompany Peak, by Roland Smith. I enjoyed the book, but it is definitely an adult book. Able high schoolers could read it, but it is relatively dense prose for the age group.

Pattison introduces a Chinese detective, Shan Tao Yun. He has been sentenced to a Tiberian prison for an offense against the Chinese Communist party in Beijing.

Much of the book focuses on the Buddhist monks and monasteries in Tibet. As someone who has been reading Thich Nhat Hanh for a couple of years now I was fascinated.

The book challenged me as a reader. The characters and motivations were were complex and I didn't take careful notes--that would have helped. I also faced some issues with the copy of the book I was reading. Some library patron before me had "edited" the book for "correctness" (and I disagreed with the corrections) and left fairly long notes written in the margins predicting plot and criticizing the author's writing. They mostly made me mad that someone would be so inconsiderate as to interrupt my "flow" while enjoying the book. It did however prompt me to find out more about the author. Pattison is an attorney specializing in international law. He has published five nonfiction books on international law and nine novels. This first novel received the Edgar Allen Poe award in 2000. I'm going to follow up with my local librarian.

I will be reading the next book in the inspector Shan series. And--hope that the local librarians can hunt down this book vandal.

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