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Mandarin Gate ()

For months, as Tibetans across western China doused themselves in gasoline and set themselves alight, authorities responded by sending in security forces to seal off areas and prevent information from getting out, but those efforts did not stop or slow the protests. The self-immolations even accelerated in November as China's ruling Communist Party held a pivotal leadership transition.

Then the government went on the offensive in December, announcing through a state-owned newspaper that the burnings are the work of foreign hostile forces keen on separating Tibet from the mainland and that those who help others self-immolate are liable to be prosecuted for murder. Arrests quickly followed. [...] Though Yu is considered a liberal on economic matters, he has not had any previous experience dealing with Tibet and has no incentive to change the government's policies in Tibet, which is a region of strategic importance because it borders India, said Willy Lam, a China politics expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Lam said that Chinese leaders expected the Tibetan cause to dissipate once the elderly Dalai Lama dies.

"There is no rationale for the party leadership to shift to a more liberal policy," Lam said. "I think the Chinese believe that time is on their side ... after the death of the Dalai Lama, there won't be such a powerful spiritual leader soliciting international support."


In his inaugural, President Obama gave only a thumbnail sketch of his foreign policy for the next four years. But he put his thumb on what can help the United States keep the peace: the lifting of “suspicion and fear” in other nations by engaging them over differences.

    -Obama's chance to lift suspicions of China (The Monitor's Editorial Board, January 22, 2013, CS Monitor)

Sadly, the editors of the Monitor are hardly alone in their pleas for the US to have normal relations, even co-operation with, a regime that is systematically seeking to destroy every vestige of Tibet's ancient culture. There may be no meaningful difference between the holocaust it is perpetrating in Tibet and the one the Nazis perpetrated in Eastern Europe, but we are asked to ignore it for the sake of "peace." And, to such a degree that we must be ashamed of ourselves, we do indeed ignore it. That is what makes the Inspector Shan novels of Eliot Pattison not just a terrific mystery series but a truly important, and very nearly the only, sustained critique of the PRC's literally monstrous policies.

Mandarin Gate, the 7th in the series, finds Shan Tao Yun free from the camps he's previously been interned in but reduced to inspecting sewerage in a region that is remote even by Tibetan standards. But the inexplicable suicide of a lama friend and the discovery of a crime scene with three more dead, including a nun, soon plunge him into conflict with Chinese authorities trying to cover-up a conspiracy so sinister it threatens the very existence of Tibetan identity.

It's difficult to describe where the trail leads Shan without revealing key plot twists. Suffice it to say, Mr. Pattison ties the crime into Chinese policies so deftly that the murder mystery becomes an indictment not just of the killer(s) but of the system entire. No decent person could read this book and still suggest that we treat China like anything but the enemy it is.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Elliot Pattison (2 books reviewed)
Elliot Pattison Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Eliot Pattison
    -ARCHIVES: Eliot Pattison (Google Books)
    -ARCHIVES: Eliot Pattison (NPR)
    -INTERVIEW: Reading and Writing podcast – Eliot Pattison interview (JEFFR, DECEMBER 3, 2011, Reading and Writing Podcast)
    -INTERVIEW: A Conversation With Eliot Pattison (Claire E. White, Writers Write)
    -REVIEW: of Ashes of the Earth by Eliot Pattison (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Ashes of the Earth (Kingdom Books)
    -REVIEW: of Ashes of the Earth (Mystery Maven)
    -REVIEW: of The Bone Rattler by Eliot Pattison (Jane Davis, Mystery Reader)
    -REVIEW: of Bone Rattler (Yvonne Zipp, CS Monitor)
    -REVIEW: of Prayer of the Dragon by Eliot Pattison (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)

Book-related and General Links: