Book Notification

Inspector Shan Books In Order

Book links take you to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases.

Publication Order of Inspector Shan Books

The Skull Mantra (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Water Touching Stone (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bone Mountain (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Beautiful Ghosts (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
Prayer of the Dragon (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Lord of Death (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mandarin Gate (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Soul of the Fire (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Skeleton God (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bones of the Earth (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Inspector Shan Tao Yun works as a laborer on a road crew that is known as 404th Construction high in the Himalayas, he was initially an inspector general within the ministry of Economy in Beijing before being imprisoned. This was because he had refused Party membership. Now he has to survive his harsh new life in prison, he fortunately gains spiritual and emotional sustenance from the monks.

Everything takes a new turn after the discovery of a headless body of local official carrying American cash and wearing American clothes. Shan is cajoled and threatened by the astute colonel in charge of the district into conducting this investigation. Colonel Tan wants a quick dirty job that involves the monk who was found near the site of the murder. Shan knows that the man is not guilty. The real suspects should include high ranking Chinese and some American mining entrepreneurs. This is how Eliot Pattison’s series that features Inspector Chan as the main character kicks off.

The skull mantra

The skull mantra was winner of the 2001 Edgar Award for the Best First Novel. This novel was actually sensational when it was first published; it further received wide acclaim from both readers and critics. This is a gripping thriller that talks more of a people and also a place, the Tibetans of the high Himalayas.

This is a truly captivating story; the author did a great job in bringing its setting to almost live. The picture of Tibet under the administration is sometimes painful to read but is actually true. The author also does not depict all these Chinese officials as bad through and through, the characters here are a mixed bag, especially with Shan, his Chinese and Tibetan partners through different investigation, they are simply unbelievable.

A corpse was found without a head and was dressed in American. It was found by a prison work gang on a windy cliff. The remains of the corpse obviously belong to someone important that the Chinese authorities would like to bury and forget. The case is thus handed over to police inspector Shan. He will be the best man for the job, but he too is a fellow prisoner. As stated, he had been deported to Tibet for simply offending someone high in the Chinese power structure. He is granted a temporary release; soon he is pulled to the Tibetan’s fight for its sacred mountains. However, after a Buddhist priest that Shan knows is innocent is arrested, he realizes that he has little time to find actual killer.

This Edgar Award winning novel will simply be great, though you may find it rough going at times. There are long stretches when what you read is fascinating, at these instances it will be hard to see the relevance of the investigation.

The bone mountain

The third book in the Inspector Shan series will give you a warm, reading and inspiring experience. Having read Eliot’s first series Skull Mantra, followed by Water Touching Stone you will not wait to get your hands on The Bone Mountain. Shan our ex-police inspector hero that spent many years within a Chinese prison is the captivating protagonist of this thriller still set in the landscape of modern Tibet. While Shan’s search for a stolen relic in the Himalayan valley provides the center of the plot, Beijing’s efforts to fully eradicate any remnants of the Tibet’s cultural and spiritual heritage is also more engaging.

The central plot of the novel is based on Shan’s travel with a salt caravan, as he guards. He then starts searching for the relic after it inexplicably disappears. Shan’s journey becomes a trip to enlightenment whose end is more worth the trip for readers that delight in the adventures experienced by Shan and his companions.

Deep at the heart of the novel, you will find that our police inspector Shan is also on the run form the ruthless Chinese army. He took the journey after he had agreed to lead a mission to return the long-gone stone eye to the idol from where it had been stolen. The return of the stolen eye is an act, which according to the Tibetan prophecy saves the sacred place and returns the original peace to Tibetan. Massive twists take place when a monk guiding them through this desperate flight is murdered; Shan also learns that the stone eye being sought for was stolen back from a Chinese army brigade.

You will find the bone mountain novel, a book that is rich, a little complicated and explores more into the extraordinary powers of faith, belief and triumph of the human spirit. There are few miracles here and there, small unanswered prayers and descriptions of meditations that will be calming to read through. This book will be compelling and complex as Tibet itself. The cumulative effect of reading through these pages is liking hearing Tibet’s beautiful music or walking through the mountain.

Eliot Pattison’s books are different from any book you will find in the market today. Eliot himself has been often described as the great writer of faraway mysteries. The actual portrayal of the Tibetan culture in the Chinese occupation is also incredible; you will find them compelling and sometimes heartbreaking. Several key geographical locations are introduced then well described. The pacing of these books is also good, the action shifts back and forth between various regions. The regions are fortunately close together, you will find it very easy to follow the plot. The action shifts through different these regions. The modern world also comes in remarkably; they come in with their helicopters, computers and the westerners.

These series will be read and much enjoyed by going through the levels novel by novel. The fact that it does not shy away from politics also seems interesting. By reminding us of the horrific political wars that face our world, it points a path that could stop it. These series are also based in the land of China, the moment you read one of them you will want to present it as a gift to a Chinese friend.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Inspector Shan

3 Responses to “Inspector Shan”

  1. George: 4 months ago

    I would say that the order becomes increasingly important from The Lord of Death and onward. It is the case that Shan’s relationship with Lokesh (and other Buddhist lamas) evolves between Water Touching Stone and Prayer of the Dragon in important ways; but the life altering relationship between Shan and Tan take important steps in the final four books.

    That being said, Beautiful Ghosts is both vital to Shan’s relationship with his son and, one of my favorite books in the set.

  2. Scott: 9 months ago

    Should the Eliot Pattison/Inspector Shan novels be read in order?
    I’ve read Skull Mantra and rcv’d Bone Mountain by mistake.

    Thank you

    • Graeme: 9 months ago

      It’s recommended to read them in order with the character evolutions from book to book. Reviews I’ve read many have stated that it’s best to do it that way.


Leave a Reply