Six and a Half Deadly Sins
A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery Set in Laos #10
Soho Crime, May 2016
A package arrives addressed to Dr. Siri Paiboun, the retired Laos coroner, containing a pha sin (a knitted dress). Examining it, he discovers a severed finger sewn into the hem, setting him, his wife and a friend on a sort of treasure hunt in the northern part of the country in the midst of the beginning of an invasion of Vietnam by China, with PRC troops making incursions into Laos to establish a third front. To complicate matters, the good doctor and his wife exhibit flu-like symptoms, which continually worsen as the trip progresses.
The object of the trip is to discover who sent the package, which had no return address. So, traveling from village to village, from weaver to weaver, to identify each package containing another pha sin and a clue sewn into the hem given to him at each location, the trio plod on. Along the way they encounter an opium-and heroin-smuggling operation and a nasty, murderous foreman of a road-building group sponsored by the Chinese.
All in all, this is another bizarre adventure for Dr. Siri, and he is complemented by his madcap entourage and their caustic humor enabling them to cope with the vagaries of the communist regime in Vientiane. This time, his sardonic humor doesn’t help him solve the couple of mysteries haunting him. But logic and planning come to the fore. Lots of fun, and recommended.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, May 2016.