cover image I Shot the Buddha

I Shot the Buddha

Colin Cotterill. Soho Crime, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-61695-722-3

In an introductory note, Cotterill warns readers that his highly entertaining 11th novel featuring Laotian coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun (after 2015’s Six and a Half Deadly Sins) is not for those who prefer their “mysteries dull and earthly.” A gripping opening follows, in which three women are murdered in three separate locations over one night in 1979. A flashback to two weeks earlier makes good on Cotterill’s disclaimer. The acerbic Siri and his redoubtable wife, Madam Daeng, who have plenty of experience with the supernatural, attend—and disrupt—a Communist Party seminar condemning spirit worship as part of the regime’s efforts to resolve conflicts between Communism and such faiths as Buddhism and animism. Meanwhile, Noo, a Thai monk whom the doctor has given refuge from the Thai military, vanishes, leaving a note asking Siri to smuggle a fellow monk back to Thailand, a mission that turns out to be connected to the murders of the three women. Cotterill’s subtle humor, coupled with the charm of his leads, will likely trump any discomfort with scenes with supernatural elements, even for readers who disapprove of such in their whodunits. (Aug.)