St. Martin's, Apr 2004, 24.95, 352 pp.
At one time Inspector Shan Tao Yun felt his life in Beijing was excellent, but he made the error of following personal ethics and adhering to the law rather than the party line; he alienated a person very high in the Chinese governmental hierarchy. The “court” sentenced Shan to toil at a remote work camp where he would not see his wife or son ever again. However, he no longer works at the camp; instead, Shan lives in Tibet amidst outlawed Buddhist monks. Having become a non-person of no status, Shan can never go home.
Shan attends a ceremony rededicating an ancient ruined monastery. While there, he finds evidence that a murder recently occurred amidst the devastated monastery. Local officials want to investigate dangling the opportunity to go back to Beijing and see his son as a carrot. Others want him quietly to leave the area. Worse, the FBI and Beijing officials are involved too. Hoping to protect the secret group of Buddhist monks that have befriended him, Shan begins to make inquiries that will take him far away from the Himalayas across the Pacific.
This is an engaging Chinese mystery starring a delightful lead protagonist, but the real star is the vivid and deep look into Tibet and other Himalayan locations. Shan is a wonderful sleuth finding himself pulled in several directions, but following his personal ethics regardless of the cost to his heart. BEAUTIFUL GHOST is a beautiful thriller.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner