Thirty-Three Teeth (A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery Book 2)


Colin Cotterill

Dr. Siri Paiboun, one of the last doctors left in Laos after the Communist takeover, has been drafted to be national coroner. He is untrained for the job, but this independent seventy-two-year-old has an outstanding qualification for the role: curiosity. And he does not mind incurring the wrath of the party’s hierarchy as he unravels mysterious murders, because the spirits of the dead are on his side—and a little too close for comfort.

Dr. Siri performs autopsies and begins to solve the mysteries relating to a series of deaths by what seem to be bear bites, to explain why a government official ran at full speed through a seventh-story window and fell to his death, and to discover the origins of the two charred bodies from the crashed helicopter in the temple at Luang Prabang. As it turns out, not surprisingly, not all is peaceful and calm in the new Communist paradise of Laos.

Reviews:Maybe on Amazon wrote:

Dr Siri is a reluctant coroner in communist Laos immediately following the end of the Vietnam war. In his seventies, hoping for retirement having spent decades fighting for independence from first the French then the Americans, Dr Siri finds himself working as the only coroner in the land, with no forensic training and helped by a nurse and a Downes syndrome man both of whom are indispensable. Dr Siri is a humorous and kindly character, lacking in even the most basic forensic facilities, he is reliant on his knowledge of medicine, basic chemistry and an onboard spirit of a thousand year old Shaman who allows Siri to commune with the dead and get, usually cryptic, clues on how they died. Written with humour and wit, never skirting the dreadful lives lived by the Lao under the new and bumbling communist rule of the 70's. He paints a picture of a beautiful country, kindly people and sometimes hilarious situations that make you laugh out loud whilst never forgetting the who-done-it storyline.

Carol on Goodreads wrote:

Thirty-Three Teeth, the second book in the Dr. Siri series set in '70s Laos, is as fascinating as the first. The mystery is dessert. The main course is our protagonist, Dr. Siri (the reluctant coroner), the residents of Vientiane and elsewhere in Laos, the culture, the ease with which Cotterill blends the spiritual with the physical -- without turning this novel into fantasy/magic realism. The challenge of investigation and solving crimes in a world where the authorities may not care if or why a crime occurred, and/or may have a preferred explanation for events that one is wise not to defy, makes for quite a different set of obstacles than those faced by the lead investigator in a typical British or American cozy mystery (not that there's anything wrong with that, as they say). As a result, the government in this book is almost a character of its own. Good luck figuring out which government, too. Consider this a complex, circuitous cozy mystery, laden with southeast asian culture and values. If you haven't read the initial book, you could start here with ease, but put the first one on your list to read, too.

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