cover image The Merry Misogynist

The Merry Misogynist

Colin Cotterill, . . Soho Crime, $24 (274pp) ISBN 978-1-56947-556-0

Setting and character more than compensate for a routine plot in Cotterill's sixth procedural to feature Laos's irreverent 73-year-old national coroner, Dr. Siri Paiboun (after 2008's Curse of the Pogo Stick ). In March 1978, Siri gets into trouble after the authorities discover he's been living above his wife's noodle shop rather than in the housing assigned him by the inept and corrupt socialist government. Luckily, he's soon called to examine the body of an attractive young woman, who was found strangled, sexually abused and tied to a tree outside the capital of Vientiane. The country's backward communication methods, which even affect law enforcement, make identifying other similar crimes difficult, but Siri's doggedness eventually uncovers other such cases. While some may find the light tone the author takes in presenting the brutal crimes off-putting, the glimpses of everyday life in Laos will appeal to those readers curious about a culture unfamiliar to most Americans. (Aug.)