anarchy and old dogs
Two years after the Pathet Lao takeover, there is already a plot afoot to overthrow the Communist government of Laos. Or at least that's what the death of a blind dentist suggests to national coroner Siri Paiboun. With a fellow old revolutionary in tow, Dr. Siri follows his secret investigation to Pakse, where the coup might be percolating. It's a city even more down-at-the-heels than Vientiane, where "the government was starting to look like a depressingly unloved relative" bogged down in bureaucracy. Although the action is sparse, this ranks as the most thoughtful entry in a fine series. And while the good doctor doesn't encounter as many spirits as usual, he does confront the ghosts of an idealistic movement brought low by incompetence and Vietnamese  meddling. Is an imperfect revolution preferable to royalist oppression? How much time should the government have to gets its act together? Siri addresses these questions with aplomb even as he and the delightful Nurse Dtui face such dramatic changes in their love lives that even the transvestite fortune-teller Auntie Bpoo might find them outlandish beyond belief.
Read A Review:

Set in 1970s Communist Laos, Cotterill's delightful fourth novel to feature Dr. Siri Paiboun, the Laotian national coroner and one of the more eccentric characters in crime fiction, and Paiboun's clever assistant, Nurse Dtui, nicely blends the supernatural, humor and intrigue...This sometimes slapstick, sometimes serious, but always lively mystery is sure to bring the author many new readers.

Publishers Weekly

As Siri finds his comfort zone in the new regime, Cotterill’s portrait of his world gains depth and breath. Using a twisty mystery as a MacGuffin, he takes droll aim at the absurdities of recent history, all the more fascinating for their plausibility.

Kirkus Review