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Laos, 1979: Dr. Siri Paiboun, the twice retired ex-National Coroner of Laos, receives an unmarked package in the mail. Inside is a handwoven pha sin, a colorful traditional skirt worn in northern Laos. A lovely present, but who sent it to him, and why? And, more importantly, why is there a severed human finger stitched into the sin’s lining? Siri is convinced someone is trying to send him a message and won’t let the matter rest until he’s figured it out. He finagles a trip up north to the province where the sin was made, not realizing he is embarking on a deadly scavenger hunt. Meanwhile, the northern Lao border is about to erupt into violence—and Dr. Siri and his entourage are walking right into the heart of the conflict.
Laos, 1978: Dr. Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old medical doctor, has unwillingly been appointed the national coroner of the new socialist Laos. His lab is underfunded, his boss is incompetent, and his support staff is quirky, to say the least. But Siri’s sense of humor gets him through his often frustrating days. When the body of the wife of a prominent politician comes through his morgue, Siri has reason to suspect the woman has been murdered. To get to the truth, Siri and his team face government secrets, spying neighbors, victim hauntings, Hmong shamans, botched romances, and other deadly dangers. Somehow, Siri must figure out a way to balance the will of the party and the will of the dead.
Ageing Disgracefully is a delightful collection of short stories that takes a humorous and life-affirming look at lives of people who, though considerably advanced in years, are still behaving very, very naughtily. With a keen eye for human foibles and a wicked sense of humor, Colin Cotterill has collected and illustrated-with words and drawings-the colorful lives of numerous atrocious elders found along his life journey, from his old home, England, to his new home, Thailand, with stops in Australia the United States. In Ageing Disgracefully we entered the minds of venerable and not so venerable elderly bank robbers, murderers and serial-killers, as well as mere practical jokers, gamblers and perverts, who may remind us of some people we know or live with, or perhaps a person who stares back at us in the mirror!
Between getting into a tangle with a corrupt local judge, and discovering a disturbing black-market business, Dr. Siri and Inspector Phosy have their hands full in the thirteenth installment of Colin Cotterill's quirky, critically acclaimed series. Dr. Siri Paiboun, the 75-year-old ex-national coroner of Laos, may have more experience dissecting bodies than making art, but now that he’s managed to smuggle a fancy movie camera into the country, he devises a plan to shoot a Lao adaptation of War and Peace with his friend Civilai. The only problem? The Ministry of Culture must approve the script before they can get rolling. That, and they can’t figure out how to turn on the camera. Meanwhile, the skeleton of a woman has appeared under the Anusawari Arch in the middle of the night. Siri puts his directorial debut on hold and assists his friend Phosy, the newly promoted Senior Police Inspector, with the ensuing investigation. Though the death of the unknown woman seems to be recent, the flesh on her corpse has been picked off in places as if something—or someone—has been gnawing on the bones. The plot Siri and his friends uncover involves much more than a single set of skeletal remains.
The second book in the Inspector Chen investigations Inspector Chen’s mentor in the Shanghai Police Bureau has assigned him to escort US Marshal Catherine Rohn. Her mission is to bring Wen, the wife of a witness in an important criminal trial, to the United States. Inspector Rohn is already en route when Chen learns that Wen has unaccountably vanished from her village in Fujian. Or is this just what he is supposed to believe? Chen resents his role; he would rather investigate the triad killing in Shanghai’s beautiful Bund Park. Li insists that saving face with Inspector Rohn takes priority. So Chen Cao, the ambitious son of a father who imbued him with Confucian precepts, must tread warily as he tries once again to be a good cop, a good man and also a loyal Party member.
A riot has erupted in New Market Square, transforming the normally sedate streets of Amsterdam into a mass of angry protesters. So when the body of the “King” of the local street market is found in his house with his head bashed in, the police are puzzled. The adjoining street has been closed off all day, and the constables stationed outside the scene of the crime didn’t detect any unusual activity. There are only two people who could have reasonably committed the violent act: the victim’s roommate upstairs and his beautiful sister downstairs. Both claim to have seen or heard nothing suspicious when the crime took place. But something isn’t adding up. Is one of them the killer?
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.

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