cover image Prayer of the Dragon

Prayer of the Dragon

Eliot Pattison, . . Soho Crime, $24 (396pp) ISBN 978-1-56947-479-2

The discovery of two mutilated corpses and a comatose stranger on the ancient pilgrims' path up Tibet's Sleeping Dragon mountain throws former Beijing special investigator Shan into a quandary at the start of Edgar-winner Pattison's atmospheric fifth mystery set in Tibet (after 2005's Beautiful Ghosts ). The detective and gulag escapee, who has been mysteriously summoned to the remote hamlet of Drango along with his lama friends Lokesh and Gendun, refuses to let the survivor be summarily executed for murder, putting himself and the equally outlaw monks in jeopardy. Shan soon finds himself with just days to delve into a deepening conundrum that hints at both modern corruption and ancient evil. Pattison fans will savor all the Tibetan flavor they have come to expect as well as an intriguing subplot exploring possible kinship between Tibetans and the Navajo. (Tony Hillerman buffs, take note.) Although first-timers may initially stumble over the abundance of foreign names, the journey, like the climb up Sleeping Dragon, soon becomes both frightening and unforgettable. (Dec.)