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Curse of the Pogo Stick


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About the Author

Colin Cotterill was born in London. He has taught in Australia, the USA and Japan and lived for many years in Laos where he worked for non-governmental social service organizations. He now writes full-time and lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand.


In his fifth appearance, national coroner Dr. Siri is kidnapped by fellow Hmong villagers to lift the curse of the pogo stick after a booby-trapped corpse wreaks havoc in his morgue. Cotterill lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

In the engaging fifth entry in Cotterill's unusual crime series set in 1970s Laos (after 2007's Anarchy and Old Dogs), members of the Hmong tribe, an oppressed minority, spirit away coroner Siri Paiboun, for whom marriage looms, to aid in an exorcism revolving around the titular pogo stick. Cotterill sympathetically depicts the Hmong's plight, striking a good balance between comedy and seriousness. The autopsy and investigation into the death of an unknown soldier booby-trapped with a grenade add intrigue. Readers will welcome such familiar characters as Madame Daeng, lab assistant Mr. Gueng and Nurse Dtui, though their perspectives tend to distract from Dr. Siri's predicament. The time spent with the Hmong, not the attendant mysteries, provides the most satisfaction. (Aug.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-In this delightful, fifth Dr. Siri novel set in late-1970s Laos, Cotterill once again manages a winning combination of elements: crisp plotting, exotic locations, endearing characters, political satire, witty dialogue, otherworldly phenomena, and a deep understanding of Hmong culture. The story begins when Dr. Siri Paiboun, the 73-year-old national coroner of Laos, attends a Communist meeting in the north that is so tedious that a member of the audience literally dies of boredom during an endless speech. While the doctor is away from home, a booby-trapped corpse is delivered to the morgue. The always-alert and resourceful Nurse Dtui is the only one who notices something amiss, and her swift action saves the lives of several people, including an arrogant visiting doctor and Madame Daeng, Dr. Siri's fiancee. But most of the book concerns the doctor's eventful trip back from the meeting. He is kidnapped by seven female Hmong villagers who, under the direction of the village elder, call upon Yeh Ming, the thousand-year-old shaman who inhabits Dr. Siri's body, to perform an exorcism. The chief's daughter suffers the curse of the pogo stick (yes, there really is a pogo stick) and is possessed by a demon. Only Yeh Ming can free her soul. How all of this gets resolved is another example of the superb storytelling readers have come to expect from Cotterill.-Robert Saunderson, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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