In 1978 in poverty-stricken Laos, a man from the city with a truck was somebody—a catch for even the prettiest village virgin. The corpse of one of these bucolic beauties turns up in Dr. Siri’s morgue, and his curiosity is piqued. The victim was tied to a tree and strangled, but she had not, as the doctor had expected, been raped. And though the victim had smooth, pale skin over most of her body, her hands and feet were gnarled, callused, and blistered.
On a trip to the hinterlands, Siri discovers that many women have been killed in this way. He sets out to investigate this unprecedented phenomenon—a serial killer in peaceful Buddhist Laos—only to discover, when he has identified the murderer, that not only pretty maidens are at risk: 73-year-old coroners can be victims too.
Crack another case with Dr. Siri.
©2009 Colin Cotterill (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“It is part of Colin Cotterill’s skill that he grips the reader by intercutting between the cerebral deductions of Siri and the determined planning of the killer…Tight plotting and a background full of the sounds and color of the Orient make this a fascinating read.” (Independent (London))
Most people believe serial killers are an American invention. I mean 'American' in the truest sense: North, Central, and South American. This particular psychopathic subtype may have first been identified, named and popularized by Western psychologists and sociologists, but the archetype existed in the East before the birth of Christ.
Colin Cotterill's "The Merry Misogynist" (2009) explores the idea of a Laotian serial killer. The killer's ability to succeed depends on the killer's innate understanding of Laos; its tribes; and communist bureaucracy in the 1970's. I have no idea if Cotterill's description of the half dozen papers needed to marry were correct at the time, but it certainly sounded plausible.
The country is scarred by war, and recovering slowly. The royal family has fallen, and after half a century of insurgency, the communists are establishing a new government. Resources are so limited that someone driving a truck, even in the capital of Vientiane, must be an important person with contacts and resources.
There's the mystery lover's question: does National Coroner (and the green eyed host of a 1000 year old spirit, Ya Ming) Dr. Siri Paiboun rely on 'deus ex solvo' to uncover the killer? No, of course not. Cotterill's settings are unique, but he follows the mystery writer's convention: the solve depends on solid facts, not the supernatural.
Clive Chafer's narration is great. He has an English? Australian? accent, which made the listen more exotic.
The beginning was fairly interesting but the end was a complete let down and unbelievable.
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