Title: Curse of the Pogo Stick
Author: Colin Cotterill
Publisher: Soho Crime, 2008
Hardcover, 256 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery, #5 Dr. Siri Paiboun mystery
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.
First Line: As there were no longer any records, the Hmong could not even tell when they actually misplaced their history.
Dr. Siri and his boss have traveled to the north in Laos to attend a Communist Party meeting. Dr. Siri would rather undergo a series of root canals without anesthesia.
Back in Vientiane, a booby-trapped corpse intended for the 73-year-old coroner has been delivered to the morgue. Only Nurse Dtui's quick thinking saves everyone in the morgue from being blown to bits.
On their way back from the meeting, Dr. Siri is kidnapped by seven female Hmong villagers so that he can exorcise a demon from the headman's daughter. While Judge Haeng gives jungle survival a try, Dr. Siri has to arrive at the solution to the curse of the pogo stick.
I think this may be the first Dr. Siri mystery that I haven't rated an A-- and I'm feeling extremely disloyal. The wit and the humor are still here in abundance, but having Dr. Siri separated from his friends and co-workers for almost the entire book just doesn't work. Especially when a dinner has to be held at the end for readers to discover what was going on with the booby-trapped corpse and other incidents that occurred in Vientiane. One of the greatest strengths of this series is the interplay between all the characters. Without that the book feels out of kilter.
All series have a book that's not quite as strong as the rest, and in all honesty, if this had been the first Dr. Siri mystery I'd read, I would've loved it and rated it higher. It is still a wonderful read (I learned quite a bit about the Hmong culture), and I urge everyone to give this series a try. Cotterill has written a marvelous series that's one of my all-time favorites.