05 January 2010

Thirty-Three Teeth

by Colin Cotterill

Text Publishing. Australian, Mystery, Crime. Paperback rrp $32.95

Dr Siri Paiboun is an unusual man. To begin with, he has thirty three teeth. The average person has only thirty two.

In his early seventies, Dr Siri has been recently appointed the Laotian National Coroner. He is a man of contradictions. The grieving widow of a passionate communist activist, he finds much amusement and frustration with the new regime he now works for. A student of science and deduction, he is also the physical host of an ancient spirit and is visited by many others, including a newly dead elephant.

In Dr Siri’s life and occupation, crossing the line between the real and spirit world is a regular occurrence. This is a man as equally comfortable discussing his cases with dead royalty and possessed puppets, as he is with the local law enforcement and government officials.

When a series of mutilated bodies are brought to the Vientiane morgue, Dr Siri and his enigmatic assistant, Nurse Dtui, are puzzled. Is the killer a man or beast? The more they investigate, the stranger the case becomes. How many teeth does the murderer have? Suspects range from an escaped circus bear to a newly released prison inmate who believes he is inhabited by the spirit of a weretiger.

This is a story of gruesome findings, shaman ceremonies and political intrigue. It is quirky and surreal, sinister and macabre. And it’s a great mystery. Can you imagine a Laotian Hercule Pierot? After reading Thirty Three Teeth, I can. Readers of crime and mystery, particularly those looking for something a little different, will thoroughly enjoy this book. I was pleased to find another adventure of Dr Siri already exists. The Coroner’s Lunch was the first in what I hope will be a long running series.

Author Colin Cotterill, is an Australian citizen whose real life experience led him to smuggle children’s books to Laos and later establish the charity, Books for Laos. You can read about this and more at http://www.colincotterill.com/.

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