Friday, August 3, 2012

Thirty-three teeth , by Colin Cotterill

 "Dr. Siri Pauboun, reluctant national coroner, confused psychic, disheartened communist," is the national coroner of Laos.  At seventy-three, he may seem a bit old for the job but there aren't many opposing candidates; Laos in the 1970s is struggling to survive following the departure of the Americans and the Russians and everybody else who has been making a mess of the country. In this novel, the second of the series, Siri begins to learn about his relationship with spirits who seem to be visiting him, as he tries to discover who or what has caused the deaths of several people in rather gruesome fashion.
We are in for many stories in this series, all of them fascinating. Siri's friends, the bureaucrat Civilai, the policeman Phosy, nurse Dtui who is large and earnest and brilliant and shy, come and go, against a backdrop of Vientiane where it is always hot (Siri on his motorcycle: " it was like riding into the blast of a hair-dryer set on hot.") and the struggle to find food and just go about the business of living is relentless.
The mysteries are not highly complex -- we read them for the pleasures of sharing experiences with the characters.  The author has a drily humorous voice and has developed his characters to be diverse, loving, and brave.
I have read this and one other, later, book and I look forward to finding more.


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