In Vientiane, Laos, a booby-trapped corpse, intended for Dr. Siri, the national coroner, has been delivered to the morgue. In his absence, only Nurse Dtuis intervention saves the lives of the morgue attendants, visiting doctors and Madame Daeng, Dr. Siris fiancée.
On his way back from a Communist party meeting in the north, Dr. Siri is kidnapped by seven female Hmong villagers under the direction of the village elder so that he will, in the guise of Yeh Ming, the thousand year old shaman with whom he shares his body, exorcise the headmans daughter, whose soul is possessed by a demon, and lift the curse of the pogo stick.
Just scanning the chapter titles, with titles such as "How to Blow Up a Coroner", "Shots from the Grassy Knoll", and "Cashews Make Me Fart", should have been my first clue that this would not be your usual whodunit. Abstaining from cashews for fear of flatulence saves the life of one of Siri's staff after a gift-wrapped box of nuts arrives for Dr Siri. But it leads to the demise of the two American auditors who indulge as they crunch numbers in Dr. Siri's office, which is just another of Cotterill's humorous asides - who hasn't wanted to kill an auditor?
In spite of what seems nonsensical, there are many gems in the book (which reminds me of Alexander McCall's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series). (Reviewed by Vy Armour).
The Lao People's Democratic Republic, commonly known as Laos (sounds like
'louse') is located in South-East Asia where it is sandwiched by Vietnam on
the East and Thailand on the West. It shares its northern border with
China and Burma/Myanmar, and its southern border with Cambodia (map).
It's population is about 6.6 million people.
Laotian are believed to be descendents of Thai tribes from the 13th century.
In the mid-14th century a powerful kingdom was founded by Fa
Ngoun (1353-73) who is credited with the introduction of Buddhism to the
area. In 1707
internal dissent split the country into two kingdoms (upper northern and
lower southern). Vientiane, the setting of the novel is in the lower region.
During the next century the two states, constantly quarreling, were overrun
by the armies of the neighboring countries, mainly Siam (which became
Thailand in 1939). In 1893 Siam was forced to recognize a French protectorate over Laos, so Laos became part...
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