Thirty-Three Teeth (A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery)
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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.
Soldier. At the far end of the ground, the custard-yellow stupa of That Luang, in need of some attention, stared back. Some hundred meters away, a little boy in underpants kicked a tin can. Its noise echoed loudly back and forth between the two monuments. Here was where they had sighted the bear. That was Monday, just before midnight. He looked across the yard, beyond the stupa to the road. And on the far side of that road was his own lane. This was the second thing that worried him. The bear
turned and walked to the door. “Hey.” “What?” The man stopped and looked back. “Where am I supposed to look at them?” “What? You don’t like a little bit of dirt? Just put some of those newspapers down if you’re afraid of getting your nice white coat dirty.” Siri was an amazingly calm man. If he ever raised his voice, it was generally a deliberate ploy for the benefit of the misguided person in front of him. He considered it his duty to teach good manners to those whose parents had omitted
wards, but for Dtui every dollar counted. She didn’t particularly like the idea at first. She’d entered nursing to keep people alive, not put them in jars. But the morgue dollar and another from overtime paperwork helped pay for the drugs that kept her ma alive. The previous coroner had been a kind man, a pencil-thin bachelor trained in France. He helped Dtui out whenever he could, but he was helping many others on his modest salary and she didn’t like to ask for more. He had escaped across the
with that kind of talk. He’s a scientist.” “Yes. I used to be, too. I can understand his feelings. Did she give you any idea of where she was planning to go today, apart from the Corrections Office?” “That was it, I’m afraid. She mentioned she wished she knew more about spirits and werewolves. Nothing else.” “Sorry, do you have a telephone?” “Yes, Doctor. The regime kindly let us keep ours. The neighbors weren’t so lucky. Thank goodness Vansana’s a medical man.” Siri tried to get through to
Blind Panic The creature that Seua had become sat on the riverbank watching the moon rise. He scratched at the blood-caked fur that covered him in patches and dipped his face into the muddy water to quench his thirst. It would soon be over for another month. The nurse would be the last. With the moon at its zenith, he would make his fourth sacrifice on the steps of the Black Stupa. He would dedicate it to Nyut Vaj. It couldn’t be long, with all this love he showed, all this dedication,