The Tibetans are terrified, the notorious Public Security Bureau wants nothing to do with the murders, and the army seems determined to just bury the dead again and Shan with them. No one wants to pursue the truth–except Shan, who finds himself in a violent collision between a heartbreaking, clandestine effort to reunite refugees from Tibet separated for decades and a covert corruption investigation that reaches to the top levels of the government in Beijing, China. The terrible secret Shan uncovers changes his town and his life forever.
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, official identity, or the freedom to return to his former home in Beijing, Shan has just begun to settle into his menial job as an inspector of irrigation and sewer ditches in a remote Tibetan township when he encounters a wrenching crime scene. Strewn across the grounds of an old Buddhist temple undergoing restoration are the bodies of two unidentified men and a Tibetan nun. Shan quickly realizes that the murders pose a riddle the Chinese police might in fact be trying to cover up. When he discovers that a nearby village has been converted into a new internment camp for Tibetan dissidents arrested in Beijing's latest pacification campaign, Shan recognizes the dangerous landscape he has entered. To find justice for the victims and to protect an American woman who witnessed the murders, Shan must navigate through the treacherous worlds of the internment camp, the local criminal gang, and the government's rabid pacification teams, while coping with his growing doubts about his own identity and role in Tibet.
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.
Embittered survivor Hadrian Boone—once a revered colony founder—has been hounded by despair and the ghosts of his past into a life of drunkenness and frequent imprisonment for challenging the governor’s tyranny. But when a gentle old man, the colony’s leading scientist, is murdered, Hadrian glimpses chilling secrets behind the killing that could destroy the colony. Realizing that he may be the only one able to expose the truth, Hadrian begins a desperate quest through the underbelly of the colony into the wrenching camps of the outcasts, escorted by a young policewoman who struggles to cope with the physical and emotional remnants of the prior world. Ultimately Hadrian’s journey becomes one of self-discovery, and to find justice his greatest challenge is navigating the tortuous path of the human spirit in a world that has been forever fractured.
Included in the novel’s cast of characters are figures from our history who have their own destinies to fulfill in the next decade, including Benjamin Franklin (writing from London), Samuel Adams, the early Pennsylvania rebel James Smith, Dr. Benjamin Rush, and, very briefly, a soft spoken militia officer named Washington. The Blood of the Oak takes a fresh view on the birth of the new American nation, suggesting that the “freedom” that became the centerpiece of the Revolution was uniquely American, rising not just from unprecedented political discourse but also from the extraordinary bond with the natural world experienced by frontier settlers and native tribes.
Still possessing an investigator's love of truth, Shan faces a perplexing tangle of mysteries. Why are the Chinese so desperate to retrieve the stone eye, why has an American geologist abandoned the oil company's drilling project and fled into the mountains, and why are rumors sweeping the countryside that an ancient lama is returning to liberate this country? As he digs into these questions, Shan realizes that there is more at stake than mere justice: the spiritual survival of his people is in danger as well.
Complex and compelling, Bone Mountain is a spectacular achievement from a major voice in crime fiction.