Whenever Dr. Siri Paiboun gets called out of town for one of the interminable conferences he is expected to attend as Laos' national coroner, things seem to start popping at the Vientiane morgue where he works with his nurse Dtui and helper Mr. Geung. This time is no exception. While Siri is listening to boring lectures in the north of the country, a booby-trapped corpse is delivered to the morgue and only Nurse Dtui's quick wits save them all from catastrophe.
Moreover, as soon as Siri left town, two auditors moved in to go over his records. But then the auditors are found dead at their posts, having eaten some poisoned cashew cakes that were meant for Siri and/or his staff. What is the meaning of this?
A few months earlier, Siri had foiled a coup aimed at toppling the new Communist government of Laos. It seems that the attempts on his life may be the way that the instigators of the coup have chosen to repay him.
Meantime, the conference that the good doctor was attending broke up and he was headed back to Vientiane with his boss, Judge Haeng, when he was kidnapped by seven female Hmong villagers. Siri is known by the Hmong to house in his 73-year-old body the spirit of a thousand-year-old Hmong shaman named Yeh Ming. The village elder had ordered Siri's kidnapping, hoping that Yeh Ming would consent to perform an exorcism on the headman's daughter. He believes her soul may be possessed by a demon due to the curse of a mysterious artifact which has brought bad luck to the village. The mysterious artifact turns out to be a child's toy - a pogo stick!
Siri reluctantly agrees to perform the exorcism and sets in play a chain of events which will see the realization of a prophecy by Auntie Bpoo, the transvestite fortune-teller which we met in the last book.
This charming tale carries forward the stories of all the characters that we've come to love in this series: Dr. Siri, of course, and his (now) fiancee Madame Daeng; Nurse Dtui and her (now) husband, the policeman Phosy; the lovable Mr. Geung; and Siri's best friend and the unsuccessful coup plotter, Civilai. They are all here and they are all as full of vim and vigor as ever!
The only complaint that I have about the books of Colin Cotterill's series is that they are just too short. It is always with reluctance that I leave behind the irascible but thoroughly lovable coroner and his coterie of friends and admirers.
But anyway, I have the next book in the series so what's keeping me from jumping right into it? Not a thing!