Feisty Dr. Siri Paiboun is no respecter of persons or party; at his age he feels he can afford to be independent. In this, the second novel in the series, he travels to Luang Prabang, where he communes with the deposed king who is resigned to his fate: it was predicted long ago. And he attends a conference of shamans called by the Communist Party to deliver an ultimatum to the spirits: obey party orders or get out. But as a series of mutilated corpses arrives in Dr. Siri’s morgue, and Nurse Dtui is menaced, he must use all his powers—forensic and shamanic—to discover the creature—animal or spirit—that has been slaying the innocent.
“The quasi-mystical story keeps a perfect balance between the modern mysteries of forensic science and the ancient secrets of the spirit world as the cranky coroner tries to resolve a politically sensitive case involving the deposed king without riling the authorities.” (New York Times Book Review)
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Healthy Addictive Pleasure
Thoroughly likable main characters develop individually and interpersonally from one book to the next.
It brings to mind the Ladies #1 Detective Agency series in that it provides a warm and vivid introduction to another culture. Both series possess a dry British wit. As the Dr. Siri Investigations explore the spirit world as well, they provide a fascinating intersection of the traditional beliefs with the political realities of the mid-70's.
Initially, I thought Clive Chafer's reading style monotonous. But the more I listen to these, the more I hear the humor and depth in this understated delivery. I find myself listening to each book twice, starting again as soon as I complete one to savor it more fully. And then I immediately download the next!
I remember the pleasure with which I discovered Michael Connelly's detective series, but over time the darkness of Bosch's world view and the alienation of the major characters induced me to back off. This series, in contrast, has some evil and genuinely negative characters, but the overall impression is one of great warmth, respect and even joy. In places it's laugh out loud funny. I'm grateful that one reviewer's related that his Laotian wife found the series presented an accurate physical and cultural portrait of her homeland. I was apprehensive that Thirty-Three Teeth might not live up to the freshness and originality of The Coroner's Lunch. Happily, this second book in the series deepened my appreciation of the culture, the characters and the nature of their growing intimacy.
If you go onto the author's web site, you'll see he's quite an accomplished cartoonist, too.