The Dalai Lama is dead. Long live the Dalai Lama.
The present Dalai Lama may not be pleased to know that he, or someone very much like him, has been bumped off in this latest thriller by English author Adam (Unholy Trinity, 1999, etc.). And hardcore Buddhists may not be pleased by Adam’s karma-for-dummies approach to their faith, complete with mixed doctrinal metaphors (“He felt as if he were in limbo . . . as he waited for His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet to die”). Still, mystery buffs are sure to like heroine and protagonist Maggie Walsh, a photojournalist of the Romancing the Stone-meets-Martha Gelhorn tribe, who slings a mean camera—whence, in one sense, “flash point”—and who, coincidentally, knows her way around an AK-47: “The center position is for automatic fire,” she instructs a Tibetan monk pressed into service, “but you don’t want that. There are only thirty rounds in the magazine; you’d use them all in one burst.” Ear to the sacred ground of Lhasa even while dodging communist guerrillas and American spooks in Colombia, Maggie hears that the Dalai Lama is on his way to another realm. After badgering her cheapskate boss in London for an assignment (“These commissioning editors, it was amazing how they could screw you without even leaving their desks”), Maggie heads for India and thence the wild highlands of Tibet, where she and a stalwart monk named Tsering battle sneeringly evil Chinese officials bent on keeping them from finding the Dalai Lama’s reincarnated successor. Not all the Chinese are bad, not all the Tibetans are good, the cuisine is downright awful, and the bullets fly thick. In short, it’s business as usual. And against all the odds, Maggie gets her tale, though not the one she expected.
A pleasing romp, even if some of the details seem lifted from a grainy copy of Kundun.