Thirty-three Teeth

p 55 “Poverty led him to religion, religion to education, education to lust, lust to communism. And communism had brought him back full circle to poverty. There was a Ph.D. dissertation waiting to be written about such a cycle.”*

Christmas comes every day for those of us who travel the byways on foot, stopping – not by a snowy woods – but rather a Little Free Library dotted throughout my small town. It is here that I came across the very first book in a mystery series. Set in communist Laos of the 1970s, Siri, an elderly coroner, not only attends to his duties with meticulous care, despite the dearth of medical supplies, but communicates with those spirits who are lying prone on the very slab in front of him. Inevitably a conundrum about death presents itself.
What a relief! What a joy! A respite from the unusual settings I love (still); everyone needs a change, no? Like Miss Marple, Siri is no “spring chicken.” At 75 he has studied in Europe, lived through the revolution, and now, is grappling with the reality of any idealistic theory when it meets reality. Yet, he takes what comes with humor and his sharp wits. His compatriots are an overweight, and brilliant nurse, and a meticulous assistant with Down Syndrome. How this author manages to integrate all these personalities and their quirks, the cultural myths, the political intrigue and bureaucracy is nothing less than a mystery itself.

Merry Christmas and Happy New year, dear readers.

Cotterill, Colin. The Coroner’s Lunch (A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery). New York: SoHo Press, 2004. Print.

*Cotterill, Colin. Thirty-Three Teeth (A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery). New York: SoHo Press, 2005. Print.




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