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THE MERRY MISOGYNIST
by Colin Cotterill
Soho, August 2010
288 pages
$14.00
ISBN: 1569476543


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

This is the sixth in the series featuring an aging medical examiner in Laos, Dr. Siri Paiboun, during the 1970's, but it was a first read for me. Like others, I was intrigued by the story's Asian setting and with the resourcefulness and the quirkiness of a this sleuth who sees ghosts.

Though ideologically a socialist, Paiboun has no patience with the petty bureaucracy of a Communist state but he knows how to use his authority to deal with the harassment of minor officials in his personal life and how best to use the country's meagre resources in his coroner's lab. Readers of the series will find that he is now married to the noodle-making queen Madam Daeng, a former freedom fighter and Paiboun's helpmate in solving both mysteries in this novel.

The misogyny of the title refers to the hatred which fuels the brutal way a number of young women have been killed. Each was found strangled and tied to a tree in countryside locations. Although not raped in a conventional manner they were brutally sexually assaulted. Paiboun and his staff are sickened by the crime and he is determined to discover the killer.

Cotterill alternates the story of the criminal investigation with sections detailing the murderer's cunning methods for seducing naive young rural women with promises of marriage and a better life. We come to learn the killer's identity and motivation but all is not revealed until the thrilling conclusion with Paiboun's life at risk.

A subplot finds Dr Paiboun and Madame Daeng looking for Crazy Rajid, a familiar street person who is missing from his regular haunts. He is revealed to be a complex and gifted character who likes to solve riddles and who creates a few of his own. However the real help in finding Rajid comes from one of Dr. Paiboun's ghosts, a maggot ridden hag. When she first appears, Paiboun thinks she might be a harbinger of his own death but later he realizes she is more a clue to Ragid's fate.

A very enjoyable read - and Siri is a character worth pursuing.

Ann Pearson is a photographer and retired college Humanities teacher who lives in Montreal

Reviewed by Ann Pearson, October 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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