cover image Soul of the Fire

Soul of the Fire

Eliot Pattison. Minotaur, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-65603-4

Pattison’s superlative eighth mystery featuring Shan Tao Yun (after 2012’s Mandarin Gate) takes the former Beijing government investigator to Zhongje, a Tibetan community that the Chinese regard as a “showcase for the motherland.” To Shan’s astonishment, he’s been tapped to serve on the People’s International Commission for Peace and Order, “dedicated to eliminating the criminal acts of self-aggression that undermine harmonious coexistence in ethnic geographies.” Shan, who has served time in labor camps, is to fill the designated slot reserved for a reformed criminal, but on his first day on the commission, he witnesses a self-immolation. His police training causes him to doubt that the death was a suicide, and his refusal to ignore the facts puts him at odds with his superiors, who don’t want the truth derailing their political agenda. Pattison impressively combines a thrilling plot with a passionate denunciation of the Chinese oppression of the Tibetan people. Agent: Natasha Kern, Natasha Kern Literary Agency. (Nov.)