Laos, 1979: Retired coroner Siri Paiboun and his wife, Madame Daeng, have never been able to turn away a misfit. Read more...
Laos, 1979: Retired coroner Siri Paiboun and his wife, Madame Daeng, have never been able to turn away a misfit. As a result, they share their small Vientiane house with an assortment of homeless people, mendicants, and oddballs. One of these oddballs is Noo, a Buddhist monk, who rides out on his bicycle one day and never comes back, leaving only a cryptic note in the refrigerator: a plea to help a fellow monk escape across the Mekhong River to Thailand.
Naturally, Siri can t turn down the adventure, and soon he and his friends find themselves running afoul of Lao secret service officers and famous spiritualists. Buddhism is a powerful influence on both morals and politics in Southeast Asia. In order to exonerate an innocent man, they will have to figure out who is cloaking terrible misdeeds in religiosity."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-05-30
- Reviewer: Staff
In an introductory note, Cotterill warns readers that his highly entertaining 11th novel featuring Laotian coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun (after 2015’s Six and a Half Deadly Sins) is not for those who prefer their “mysteries dull and earthly.” A gripping opening follows, in which three women are murdered in three separate locations over one night in 1979. A flashback to two weeks earlier makes good on Cotterill’s disclaimer. The acerbic Siri and his redoubtable wife, Madam Daeng, who have plenty of experience with the supernatural, attend—and disrupt—a Communist Party seminar condemning spirit worship as part of the regime’s efforts to resolve conflicts between Communism and such faiths as Buddhism and animism. Meanwhile, Noo, a Thai monk whom the doctor has given refuge from the Thai military, vanishes, leaving a note asking Siri to smuggle a fellow monk back to Thailand, a mission that turns out to be connected to the murders of the three women. Cotterill’s subtle humor, coupled with the charm of his leads, will likely trump any discomfort with scenes with supernatural elements, even for readers who disapprove of such in their whodunits. (Aug.)