cover image Skeleton God

Skeleton God

Eliot Pattison. Minotaur, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-06762-3

Edgar-winner Pattison remains without peer at integrating a fair-play whodunit into a searing portrayal of life under an oppressive and capricious regime, as shown by his ninth Insp. Shan Tao Yun mystery (after 2014’s Soul of the Fire). Shan, who lost his previous position after uncovering uncomfortable truths, now works as a constable in the secluded Tibetan town of Yangkar. Shan has done his best to stay off the radar of anyone in power, hoping that his diminished profile will enable less harsh treatment to continue for his imprisoned son, Ko. But events overtake Shan’s intention when locals hear a surprising sound emanating from the tomb of a centuries-dead lama. The tomb turns out to contain two other corpses: one of a Chinese soldier who died decades earlier; the other of a Westerner, killed just hours before. The shocks for Shan don’t end there. Both men seemed to have been murdered in exactly the same manner. Even readers unfamiliar with the physical and cultural devastation China has wrought in Tibet will find themselves engrossed—and moved—by Pattison’s nuanced portrayal. Agent: Natasha Kern, Natasha Kern Literary Agency. (Mar.)