Colin CotterillDr. Siri Paiboun is pulled out of retirement at the age of 72 by the new Communist government of Laos to become National Coroner. Though he is dubious and his medical background does not qualify him for the job, his new position allows him to identify murder victims.
In this dark, quirky fourteenth Dr. Siri Paiboun mystery set in Communist Laos in the early ’80s, a death threat sends Dr. Siri down memory lane, from Paris in the ’30s to war-torn Vietnam in the ’70s, to figure out who’s trying to kill him now.
Vientiane, 1980: For a man of his age and in his corner of the world, Dr. Siri, the 76-year-old former national coroner of Laos, is doing remarkably well—especially considering the fact that he is possessed by a thousand-year-old Hmong shaman. That is, until he finds a mysterious note tied to his dog’s tail. Upon finding someone to translate the note, Dr. Siri learns it is a death threat addressed not only to him, but to everyone he holds dear. Whoever wrote the note claims the job will be executed in two weeks.
Thus, at the urging of his wife and his motley crew of faithful friends, Dr. Siri must figure out who wants him dead, prompting him to recount three incidents over the years: an early meeting with his lifelong pal Civilai in Paris in the early ’30s, a particularly disruptive visit to an art museum in Saigon in 1956, and a prisoner of war negotiation in Hanoi at the height of the Vietnam War in the ’70s. There will be grave consequences in the present if Dr. Siri can’t decipher the clues from his past.
Between getting into a tangle with a corrupt local judge, and discovering a disturbing black-market business, Dr. Siri and Inspector Phosy have their hands full in the thirteenth installment of Colin Cotterill’s quirky, critically acclaimed series.
Dr. Siri Paiboun, the 75-year-old ex-national coroner of Laos, may have more experience dissecting bodies than making art, but now that he’s managed to smuggle a fancy movie camera into the country, he devises a plan to shoot a Lao adaptation of War and Peace with his friend Civilai. The only problem? The Ministry of Culture must approve the script before they can get rolling. That, and they can’t figure out how to turn on the camera.
Meanwhile, the skeleton of a woman has appeared under the Anusawari Arch in the middle of the night. Siri puts his directorial debut on hold and assists his friend Phosy, the newly promoted Senior Police Inspector, with the ensuing investigation. Though the death of the unknown woman seems to be recent, the flesh on her corpse has been picked off in places as if something—or someone—has been gnawing on the bones. The plot Siri and his friends uncover involves much more than a single set of skeletal remains.
The 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow is already rife with controversy, but when a Lao athlete is accused of murder, it escalates into a full blown international incident. In the twelfth entry to the series, Dr. Siri Paiboun and his quirky team of misfits are on the case in a city and country foreign to them, yet familiar in its corruption of justice.
1980: The People’s Democratic Republic of Laos is proud to be competing in its first-ever Olympics. Of course, half the world is boycotting the Moscow Summer Olympic Games to protest the Soviet Union’s recent invasion of Afghanistan, but that has made room for athletes from countries that are usually too small or underfunded to be competitive—like Laos.
Ex-national coroner of Laos Dr. Siri Paiboun may be retired, but he and his wife, Madame Daeng, would do just about anything to have a chance to visit Moscow, so Siri finagles them a trip by getting them hired as medical advisers to the Olympians. Most of the athletes are young and innocent village people who have never worn running shoes, much less imagined anything as marvelous as the Moscow Olympic Village. As the competition heats up, however, Siri begins to suspect that one of the athletes is not who he says he is. Fearing a conspiracy, Siri and his friends investigate, liaising in secret with Inspector Phosy back home in Laos to see if the man might be an assassin. Siri’s progress is derailed when a Lao Olympian is accused of murder. Now in the midst of a murky international incident, Dr. Siri must navigate not one but two paranoid government machines to make sure justice is done.
A fiendishly clever mystery in which Dr. Siri and his friends investigate three interlocking murders—and the ungodly motives behind them
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.
Laos, 1979: Dr. Siri Paiboun, the twice retired ex-National Coroner of Laos, receives an unmarked package in the mail. Inside is a handwoven pha sin, a colorful traditional skirt worn in northern Laos. A lovely present, but who sent it to him, and why? And, more importantly, why is there a severed human finger stitched into the sin’s lining?
Siri is convinced someone is trying to send him a message and won’t let the matter rest until he’s figured it out. He finagles a trip up north to the province where the sin was made, not realizing he is embarking on a deadly scavenger hunt. Meanwhile, the northern Lao border is about to erupt into violence—and Dr. Siri and his entourage are walking right into the heart of the conflict.
The long-awaited follow-up to 2011’s Slash & Burn and the ninth installment in Colin Cotterill’s bestselling mystery series starring the inimitable Lao national coroner, Dr. Siri
In a small Lao village, a very strange thing has happened. A woman was shot and killed in her bed during a burglary; she was given a funeral and everyone in the village saw her body burned. Then, three days later, she was back in her house as if she’d never been dead at all. But now she’s clairvoyant, and can speak to the dead. That’s why the long-dead brother of a Lao general has enlisted her to help his brother uncover his remains, which have been lost at the bottom of a river for many years.
Lao national coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun and his wife, Madame Daeng, are sent along to supervise the excavation. It could be a kind of relaxing vacation for them, maybe, except Siri is obsessed with the pretty undead medium’s special abilities, and Madame Daeng might be a little jealous. She doesn’t trust the woman for some reason─is her hunch right? What is the group really digging for at the bottom of this remote river on the Thai border? What war secrets are being covered up?
Dr. Siri never really wanted to be Laos’s national coroner. And now that he is in his mid-70s, he longs to spend some time with his wife before the untimely death that is sure to befall him, according to the local transvestite fortune-teller. But retirement will have to wait (again) until he has completed one last job for the Lao government: supervising an excavation for the remains of a US fighter pilot who went down in the remote northern Lao jungle ten years earlier. And the stakes are high. The presence of American soldiers in Laos is controversial, and the search party includes high-level politicians and scientists. So when a member of the party is found dead, Dr. Siri suspects it may not have been an accident. Can Dr. Siri get to the bottom of the MIA pilot’s mysterious story before the body count rises and the fortune-teller’s prediction comes true?
When a Lao female security officer is discovered stabbed through the heart with a fencing sword, Dr. Siri, the reluctant national coroner for the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, is brought in to examine the body. Soon two other young women are found killed in the same unusual way. Siri learns that all three victims studied in Europe and that one of them was being pursued by a mysterious stalker. But before he can solve the case, he is whisked away to Cambodia on a diplomatic mission. Though on the surface the Khmer Rouge seem to be committed to the socialist cause, Siri soon learns the horrifying truth of the killing fields and finds himself thrown into prison. Can the seventy-four-year-old doctor escape with his life?
When the corpse of a rural beauty turns up in Dr. Siri’s morgue, his curiosity is piqued. The victim was tied to a tree and strangled, but she had not, as the doctor had expected, been raped. On a trip to the hinterlands, Siri learns that many women have been killed this way, and he soon discovers that not only pretty maidens are at risk. Seventy-three-year-old coroners can be victims, too.
Seven female Hmong villagers kidnap Dr. Siri on orders from the village elder who hopes that Yeh Ming, the thousand-year-old shaman who shares the doctor’s body, will consent to exorcise the headman’s daughter. He fears that her soul has been possessed by a demon due to the curse of a mysterious Western artifact. Siri agrees to help and, in so doing, brings to pass a prediction of Auntie Bpoo, a transvestite fortune-teller.
When a blind former dentist is run over by a truck, Dr. Siri Paiboun, the reluctant national coroner of Laos, suspects that this was no traffic accident. A coded message in invisible ink is recovered from the dentist’s body, and Dr. Siri begins to follow clues that hint at deep—and dangerous—political intrigue. Dr. Siri only intended to investigate a murder; is he now being drawn into an insurrection? Will he, as a fortune teller predicts, betray his country?
Dr Siri Paiboun, reluctant national coroner of the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, is summoned to a remote location in the mountains of Huaphan Province, where for years the leaders of the current government had hidden out in caves, waiting to assume power. Now, as a major celebration of the new regime is scheduled to take place, an arm is found protruding from the concrete walk that was laid from the President’s former cave hideout to his new house beneath the cliffs. Dr Siri is ordered to supervise the disinterment of the body attached to the arm, identify the corpse, and discover how he died.
Dr. Siri Paiboun, one of the last doctors left in Laos after the Communist takeover, has been drafted to be national coroner. He is untrained for the job, but this independent seventy-two-year-old has an outstanding qualification for the role: curiosity. And he does not mind incurring the wrath of the party’s hierarchy as he unravels mysterious murders, because the spirits of the dead are on his side—and a little too close for comfort.
Dr. Siri performs autopsies and begins to solve the mysteries relating to a series of deaths by what seem to be bear bites, to explain why a government official ran at full speed through a seventh-story window and fell to his death, and to discover the origins of the two charred bodies from the crashed helicopter in the temple at Luang Prabang. As it turns out, not surprisingly, not all is peaceful and calm in the new Communist paradise of Laos.
Laos, 1978: Dr. Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old medical doctor, has unwillingly been appointed the national coroner of the new socialist Laos. His lab is underfunded, his boss is incompetent, and his support staff is quirky, to say the least. But Siri’s sense of humor gets him through his often frustrating days. When the body of the wife of a prominent politician comes through his morgue, Siri has reason to suspect the woman has been murdered. To get to the truth, Siri and his team face government secrets, spying neighbors, victim hauntings, Hmong shamans, botched romances, and other deadly dangers. Somehow, Siri must figure out a way to balance the will of the party and the will of the dead.