On the way to solving the mystery of the corpse in the cave, curmudgeonly Dr. Siri meets an array of Comrades as quirky as himself.
In the late 1970s, aging Siri Paiboun, national coroner and reluctant communist in the new Laos, is sent with Nurse Dtui, his protégée, to a remote mountain location for what he expects to be an educational retreat. Instead, they’re taken to a cave that’s a pre-coup hiding place for the current president and are presented with a mystery to solve: Who belongs to the arm sticking out of the concrete, and how did the corpse die? Before the coup, concrete paths often led from housing to hideouts for the president-to-be and his cronies. Aided in their efforts by a prickly Cuban coroner named Santiago—a deft parody of Siri—the shaggy duo threaten to expose political skeletons better left undisturbed. Dtui’s crackling banter with Siri confirms her position as a curmudgeon-in-training. As in previous adventures, Siri’s deductions are aided by his odd dreams. Meanwhile, an alternate plot follows the jungle odyssey of Geung Watajak, a simple morgue assistant. Though ultimately integrated into the main story, it also stands alone as an effective piece of serious fiction.
With its snappy chapter titles and its emphasis on character, this third installment in Cotterill’s series will especially appeal to fans returning from earlier episodes (Thirty-Three Teeth, 2005, etc.).