Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill
|Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Brilliant characters, social commentary, humour and an ingenious plot - what's not to like?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: November 2009|
|Publisher: Quercus Publishing|
Dr Siri Paiboun usually managed to control his reactions in front of Judge Haeng, but occasionally he forgot himself and was more insolent than usual. This time the Laos national coroner (reluctant), communist (even more reluctantly) and shaman finds himself on a road trip with the judge and the Justice Department. Nurse Dtui (pregnant and married, although not in the usual order of events) is left to run the morgue along with Mr Geung, who might, or might not be a help, but probably not in the way that you might expect. As if that wasn't enough Nurse Dtui discovers a booby-trapped corpse, there's a geriatric hit-person on the loose and Siri is kidnapped.
And why has Siri been kidnapped? Well, some local villagers are convinced that in his guise as shaman Yeh Ming he can exorcise their village of its demon. Where does that demon reside? Well, in a pogo stick of course. This is nineteen-seventies Laos and there are still many reminders of the invading American forces.
I'd better make something clear. I don't believe in shamanism and I'm quite likely to throw any book which uses it as a plot device at the wall, muttering something like 'cop out'. I particularly like my crime to rest on the believable and the explicable, the rational and the logical. Having said all that, I loved this book and I read it straight through in one (rather long) sitting. The shamanism is deeply rooted in the local culture and felt totally believable.
Siri Paiboun is a wonderful character. I met him some time ago when I read the first book in the series – The Coroner's Lunch – and whilst it is possible to read Curse of the Pogo Stick as a stand alone novel you will find it more enjoyable if you know a little of the background to the series. Then you can fully appreciate the reluctant coroner, long past normal retirement age, who loves to play detective, despite the restrictions of the political regime, and who's about to get married to a very sexy lady who's nearly as old as him. You'll laugh and you'll cry and you'll love Siri Paiboun.
Every character comes off the page fully formed, from sensible Nurse Dtui who spots that the corpse which has arrived for autopsy is, er, rather oddly constructed, to bride-to-be Madame Daeng whose noodle shop is the pride of Vientiane, but who, in her sixties is still perfectly capable of holding her own against most men. There's not a weak character in the book. Add in the wonderful backdrop of Laos and an intriguing plot and you have a real winner.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
We have reviewed two earlier books in this series and if this book appeals to you then you might also enjoy Disco for the Departed and Anarchy and Old Dogs – in fact you might be better reading them before Curse of the Pogo Stick. You will also love Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint.
You can read more book reviews or buy Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill at Amazon.com.
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