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Curse of the Pogo Stick: A Dr. Siri Investigation Set in Laos    by Colin Cotterill order for
Curse of the Pogo Stick
by Colin Cotterill
Order:  USA  Can
Soho, 2008 (2008)

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* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

In an exotic blend of murder, mayhem, mirth, and mysticism, accomplished author Colin Cotterill gives septuagenarian Dr. Siri Paiboun an exciting new series of challenges in Curse of the Pogo Stick, the latest in the Laotian coroner's fascinating adventures.

When the remarkable action begins in 1977 in the capital city of Vientiane, it has been two years since the humorless and tactless communists had taken over the hapless nation, and now the booby-trapped body of a soldier inertly threatens murderous carnage in the morgue. The intended target, Dr. Siri, though is out-of-town, which means his nurse Dtui, her policeman husband, Dr. Siri's sixty-six year old fiancée Madame Daeng, and a disgraced though still well-connected former politician must set out to unravel the mystery behind the explosive cadaver.

Meanwhile, because of orders from the government, Dr. Siri and his inept bureaucratic supervisor Judge Haeng are traveling from one location to another in rural Laos when masked kidnappers converge on their convoy. Through an intriguing series of misadventures, Dr. Siri becomes the captive guest in a remote Hmong village where the beleaguered villagers are preoccupied with four immediate issues: a pogo stick curiously dominates their lives as an iconic totem; competing military forces threaten to extinguish the Hmong's way of life; a young woman is possessed by demons, and - with unshakeable determination - the villagers insist that Dr. Siri is, in fact, a great shaman whose spiritual powers can protect the villagers from everything that is evil and dangerous.

Written as a humorous, compassionate, and intriguing narrative, Curse of the Pogo Stick succeeds as a top-notch mystery and a scathing commentary upon a socialist society in which the human spirit of an oppressed people remains vibrant and resilient in spite of perverse tyranny.

Mysteries set in exotic locales are almost always fascinating for fans of the genre, and Curse of the Pogo Stick is certainly that and more: it is absolutely superb! Don't miss it!

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