The Skull Mantra
By Eliot Pattison
(Minotaur Books, Paperback, 9780312385392, 416pp.)
Publication Date: September 30, 2008
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Winner of the 2001 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, Skull Mantra was a sensation when first published and received wide acclaim from critics and readers alike. The Skull Mantra was ranked with Gorky Park and Smilla's Sense of Snow as a novel as much about a people and a place--the Tibetans of the high Himalayas--as it is a gripping thriller. The corpse is missing its head and is dressed in American clothes. Found by a Tibetan prison work gang on a windy cliff, the grisly remains clearly belong to someone too important for Chinese authorities to bury and forget. So the case is handed to veteran police inspector Shan Tao Yun. Methodical, clever Shan is the best man for the job, but he too is a prisoner, deported to Tibet for offending someone high up in Beijing's power structure. Granted a temporary release, Shan is soon pulled into the Tibetan people's desperate fight for its sacred mountains and the Chinese regime's blood-soaked policies. Then, a Buddhist priest is arrested, a man Shan knows is innocent. Now time is running out for Shan to find the real killer. The Skull Mantra is the winner of the 2000 Edgar Award for Best First Novel.
Eliot Pattison is a world traveler and frequent visitor to China, whose numerous books and articles on international policy issues have been published on three continents. Author of five books set in Tibet, featuring former Inspector Shan Tao Yun, including the recently released Prayer of the Dragon (Soho, 2007).
"Like Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko, Shan becomes our Don Quixote, an apolitical guide through a murky world of failed socialism...Set against a background that is alternately bleak and blazingly beautiful, this is at once a top-notch thriller and a substantive look at Tibet under siege." --Publisher's Weekly (starred review) on The Skull Mantra "It's rare when a mystery brings something fresh to the genre. Eliot Pattison has accomplished this with his Edgar Award-winning debut, The Skull Mantra." --San Francisco Chronicle "Superb...breathlessly suspenseful." --Kirkus Reviews