Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Colin Cotterill
Soho , July 2008
250 pages
ISBN: 1569474850

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Dr Siri Paiboun is attending a Communist Party meeting with his superior, Judge Haeng, which leaves the only morgue in the People's Democratic Republic of Laos without a coroner. Normally this would not be a problem, but an unknown man dressed in an Army uniform is discovered dead. The Army wants the autopsy completed ASAP in order to identity the victim and catch the killer. Surprisingly, a substitute doctor is called to complete the autopsy.

Nurse Dtui is the first to notice that the victim is booby-trapped. In fact the corpse contains a bomb that would explode during an autopsy. While able to prevent the death of all the attendants in the morgue, Nurse Dtui is not satisfied. After watching Dr Siri solve crimes, she too wants her chance. She wants to discover who wants Dr Siri dead and present the evidence to Dr Siri on his return. To this end, she enlists the aid of Madame Daeng, Dr Siri's fiancée, as well as her own significant other.

Meanwhile, Dr Siri is forced to accompany Judge Haeng on a trek through the North. There Dr Siri is kidnapped by a band of Hmong women. They take him back to their village where they want him to remove a curse. The daughter of Elder Long has been impregnated by a demon and this demon continues to control her. The few who remain in the village plan to flee the country, but Elder Long would like to take his daughter with him. Only by freeing her from the demon will it be safe to transport her out of the country.

Dr Siri can sense ghosts and one of these, Yeh Ming, resides inside him. While Dr Siri is aware of Yeh Ming’s ghost, he is unable to access Yeh Ming’s abilities or knowledge. Elder Long wants Yeh Ming to remove the curse of the pogo stick and allow his family to flee this land. Dr Siri is their prisoner until he can complete this task. With the help of Bao, the daughter of the village's shaman, Dr Siri must approach this matter both in the supernatural world and the physical world. Only by using his understanding of the world and Yeh Ming’s understanding of the rituals will Dr Siri be free to return to his own family.

I find it difficult to summarize the Dr Siri Paiboun series or cohesively provide my opinions of CURSE OF THE POGO STICK, the fifth in the series.. Unlike other, more political, mysteries set in communist countries, this book focuses more on Dr Siri’s views on the silliness of society rather than an a specific propaganda for or against communism. Some of the cruelties of communism also seem to be glossed over when they are not applicable to the plot. Dr Siri is an old man without training as a coroner, yet he is able to discover things that no one else can. He frequently looks into mysteries but he never seems actively to investigate anything. While many senior party members do not like his meddling, no one successfully plots against him.

Even though THE CURSE OF THE POGO STICK and the Dr Siri Paiboun series can be contradictory at times, its uniqueness is one of its main attractions. And I, for one, always look forward to the latest adventure of Dr Siri and his makeshift community.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, June 2008

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]