The news that a venerated teacher has been murdered sends an unlikely band of outcasts into the remote northern reaches of the Tibetan plateau. Two old Tibetans travel to restore the spiritual balance disturbed by violent death. A sullen resistance fighter races to battle a new foe. But Shan Tao Yun, former Beijing investigator and newly released from four years of prison camp, sets out to find justice. In the dangerous borderlands of western China, however, justice is elusive. Vengeful officials, soldiers, smugglers, secret Buddhists and the remnants of the proud Muslim clans all stand in the way of Shan's pursuit of a serial killer whose terrible motives lie buried in the Tibetan struggle.
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Given the critical and commercial success of Eliot Pattison's debut The Skull Mantra, which painstakingly limned contemporary Tibet's harsh beauty and defiant fatalism through the stoic perspective of Shan Tao Yun, a Chinese bureaucrat imprisoned in a Himalayan labour camp, it's no wonder the author's second novel, Water Touching Stone, returns to this hauntingly scarred country. But Water Touching Stone also widens the author's geographical and social scope. Shan must find a killer who is stalking orphan boys in the high mountains and deserts of the Xianjiang Autonomous Region.
Gendun, the senior lama at the monastery that has given Shan sanctuary, announces to his student: "You are needed in the north. A woman named Lau has been killed. A teacher. And a lama is missing." Though reluctant to leave the gentle presence of the monks who are balm to his crippled soul, Shan realises he has no choice.
It turns out that Lau had taken upon herself the care of the zheli, a group of orphaned children from all corners of Xianjiang, and strove to help the children retain a sense of native identity in the face of the Poverty Eradication Scheme, which is Beijing-speak for the destruction of the herding clans and the transformation of the western steppes into a region of exploitable resources. Shan wonders whether officials from the People's Brigade (perhaps the "Jade Bitch", Prosecutor Xu Li), or the feared secret police "knobs" from Public Security decided to put a stop to her subversive activities. But when the children from the zheli begin dying amid horrific tales of the "demon" that came for them, bleak politics must grapple with darker imaginings.
The novel sports a practically Dickensian cast of characters, which might overwhelm the narrative by sheer numbers, yet Pattison manages to add depth to even the most minor of characters, and at the moments when the troupe threatens to become completely unwieldy, he deftly redeems the situation with moments of quiet poetry. --Kelly FlynnReview:
"Intriguing...compelling."--"The San Francisco Chronicle""Few mystery sequels have been awaited with as much anticipation as this one."--"Publishers Weekly""Water Touching Stone is a mystery but it is more than just a who-done-it...another triumph for fans of the Edgar Award-winning author."--"The Midwest Book Review"
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Book Description Arrow Books, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099414864
Book Description Arrow Books, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0099414864