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Curse of the Pogo Stick [Hardcover]

5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book in a magnificent series March 24 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was absolutely fascinating. One can learn about a whole region, several different groups of people in the region all while being fabulously entertained. This book completely changed my perspective on so much in the region. Read the book - you'll be marvelously entertained and educated at the same time !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  52 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars solid historical Laos mystery Aug. 7 2008
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
In the late 1970s the Laotian National Coroner seventy-three years old Dr. Siri Paiboun is attending some governmental Communist Party function (waste of time if you ask him) in the north. Meanwhile back in the capital Vientiane a corpse of a soldier booby trapped with grenades is anonymously dropped off at the morgue. Only the fast and capable work of Paibourn's assistant Nurse Dtui avoids a tragedy from happening.

Meanwhile Paibourn looks forward to getting home to spend time with his fiancée Madame Daeng and even time in the morgue, which is better than attending these inane officious official officialdoms. Instead the female members of the Hmong tribe abduct Dr. Siri as they need his help; or at least of the millennium old shaman Yeh Ming is to perform an exorcism on the tribal chief's daughter demonically possessed due to an evil pogo stick placed on an alter.

CURSE OF THE POGO STICK is a solid historical mystery that contains two subplots, in which both contain humor inside serious situations that brings to life 1977-78 Laos. The Vientiane investigation is superbly written as Nurse Dtui cleverly leads the inquiry into who would use a dead soldier to kills others. However, Colin Cotterill's insight into the suppressed Hmong people, caught between the violent Communist regime and Nixon's just completed a few years ago secret war, is what makes this a great entry as neither side cares what happened to these expendable mountain pawns. The insight into the Hmong culture and their "collateral damage" plight supersede the whodunit.

Harriet Klausner
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent instalment July 11 2008
By Miran Ali - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Another much awaited instalment of the series centred around Dr Siri the National Coroner of Laos under the Pathet Lao regime. Unfortunately this would qualify as the weakest of the series so far. This episode mostly concerns itself with mysterious happenings in a Hmong village. While Siri's intrepid assistant nurse Dtui goes off to investigate another crime. A central focus of this book is the price paid by the Hmong during the conflicts in Indochina. Sadly, though the book's set in the late '70's, the Hmong are still being persecuted by the Lao and Vietnamese governments to this day.
If this is your fist encounter with Dr. Siri, then please start with "The Coroner's Lunch", the first instalment of the series.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written with more passion July 22 2008
By Prof John F. Roddick - Published on
First an admission, I love the Dr Siri Paiboun books. And despite what others have written, I do not think this one is the weakest although it is a little different. The book is far more descriptive of the lives and foibles of the people of Laos and in particular explore the wretched lives and wonderful nature of the Hmong. It's different in this respect. I'm not sure Cotterill can afford to use this difference often but it has added a more human dimension to the series.

However it is also, like the others, very funny. Well written, well edited and very polished. A great read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradise Lost Jan. 9 2009
By Gary Griffiths - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Cheers to the talented Colin Cotterill who, like his wily septuagenarian protagonist Dr. Siri Paiboun, gets deeper and savvier with each new installment of this refreshingly unique crime mystery series. In this outing, Cotterill splits his plot, leaving sidekick nurse Dtui and her new policeman husband, Phosy, with Mr. Gueng tagging along, to crack the case of a booby-trapped corpse, while a Hmong tribe in northern Laos waylays Laotian national coroner Siri and his insufferable boss.

Consistent with its predecessors, Cotterill's characters are thoughtfully rendered - this is a guy who has great love and respect for the people he captures so well on paper. His prose is light and easy to read - we're not talking heavy atmospherics or deep psychological drama here - and despite the macabre and gruesome nature of a day in the morgue, the author does not rely on excess violence or gore to substitute for story or setting. With a keen dry wit reflected through Siri, Cotterill's skewering of communism and its incompetent practitioners becomes rapier-sharp, yet plot is never overshadowed by the politics. The mysterious Hmongs, who've dropped in and out of the fringes of previous books in the series, play a pivotal role here (including the background of the bizarre title), lending additional cultural depth and poignancy while opening old Viet Nam-era war wounds. The parallel stories come together with an unusual a very Cotterill-like humorous twist, laying the groundwork for the next entry.

While Colin Cotterill is not the in-your-face, hip, brash and brutal contemporary crime lyricists in the vein of Charlie Huston, Duane Swierczynski, or Ken Bruen, he is nonetheless a maverick in his own right - a sensitive and creative writer who values intelligent plotting and carefully drawn casts, choosing a unique time and unusual setting to practice his magic. Here is an author that deserves much more exposure - do yourself a favor and get acquainted.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Excellent Output Nov. 26 2009
By TS555 - Published on
The latest book with Dr. Siri continues to maintain what makes the series so wonderful - good mystery, witty characters, interesting historical background - to name a few of the key ingredients. For "Curse of the Pogo Stick", the author touches upon the plight of the Hmong in Laos. All in all, a really good book that is a great read without ever becoming too cute or too gory. Highly recommended, and look forward to more in the future from Mr. Cottreill.
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