SLASH AND BURN
Cotterill’s award-winning Paiboun series is set in Laos, and readers will enjoy the trip. His latest is filled with surreal humor, but with the edge found in the TV show MASH. Very well written and thoroughly enjoyable, Dr. Paiboun is an endearing and clever character. This is a lovely book and it is well worth reading the series.
Dr. Siri Paiboun, Laos’ national coroner, is almost 80, never wanted the job and has been trying to retire. In communist Laos personal desire is never that important. His life isn’t easy. He is host to a Hmong shaman spirit, and a local transvestite fortuneteller has predicted his death. Sent into a remote jungle to look for the remains of a U.S. fighter pilot who crashed 10 years before, Dr. Piri is confined to a small hotel surrounded by unexploded bombs from the war when people start dying. His wife, Madame Daong, is determined he won’t be a victim. (SOHO, Jan., 304 pp., $25.00)