Disgraced and replaced, former Beijing Public Security Investigator Shan Tao Yan (Bone Mountain, 2002, etc.) remains the nonpareil cop, even to his enemies.
Whenever wily party boss Colonel Tan feels embattled, he plays his Shan card, calling on a super-sleuth whose detecting trademark—brilliant deductions more often metaphysical than physical—make him an anti-Holmes. This fourth time out, the complex case involves a vulture-like force poised to descend on Tibet. Tan wants no such invasion, and since Shan doesn’t either, the two achieve a rare accord. So Shan, paroled from a work camp, tilts with FBI secret agendas and opportunistic Chinese officialdom in an effort to solve a murder in a remote Tibetan monastery, which is connected to the murder of a young American nanny, which is connected to the attempt to lift long-hidden Tibetan art treasures from remote mountain caves, which is connected in turn to the kind of political chicanery that gives Colonel Tan night sweats. It all takes on an entirely different and unpredictable coloration for Shan when his son appears. Ko is apparently a sociopathic 19-year-old who reveres the father he’s been taught to think of as an arch-criminal. Ironically and poignantly, the inescapable truth about Shan, his essential decency, diminishes him in Ko’s eyes. What’s a loving father to do?
Salted with wonderfully effective set pieces, but traveling the distances between them is no picnic.