The Lord of Death
Soho, Jun 2009, $24.00
In China former Beijing investigator Shan Tao Yun learned the hard way about being too diligent pursuing corruption in the highest levels of the government as he was not only fired he was exiled to a Tibetan gulag. An elderly wise-woman orders him to take a corpse across the state’s highest peak Chomolungma because the Gods selected him. As he treks with a mule carrying the body, Shan comes across an overturned bus filled with outlawed Buddhist monks that was knocked over by an avalanche. Within moments, he hears gunfire. Two people in a car are killed; one is China's minister of tourism and the other blond American Megan Ross.
Shan is arrested, but convinces the investigator of his innocence. Soon afterward Colonel Tan is arrested. Shan was hoping Tan would intervene to rescue his enslaved son, Shan Ko from a “yeti factory” where workers die rather quickly that is if they remain sane long enough to die. Shan must find the killer to free his offspring, but the officials insist Ross is alive though she died in Shan’s arms.
The latest Shan Chinese mystery (see PRAYER OF THE DRAGON and BONE MOUNTAIN) is a superb investigative thriller because the strong insistence by officials and witnesses hamper the lead protagonist’s inquiry. Ironically he is the last witness to see the woman alive, but his testimony is ignored because he is in official exile and to insure that Beijing is pleased with the results. Fans will enjoy Shan’s desperate probe as he knows his son’s mind at a minimum and more likely his life is at stake as no one leaves the factory the same way they entered; this indirect condemnation of Chinese manufacturing using enslaved labor to punish as well as undercut global competition enhances a great investigative tale.