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Comment: Exlibrary hardcover in dust jacket- light reader wear Has all the usual library marks, stickers, and stamps.
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Curse of the Pogo Stick (A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery) Hardcover – August 1, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews
Book 5 of 10 in the Dr. Siri Mysteries Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—In this delightful, fifth Dr. Siri novel set in late-1970s Laos, Cotterill once again manages a winning combination of elements: crisp plotting, exotic locations, endearing characters, political satire, witty dialogue, otherworldly phenomena, and a deep understanding of Hmong culture. The story begins when Dr. Siri Paiboun, the 73-year-old national coroner of Laos, attends a Communist meeting in the north that is so tedious that a member of the audience literally dies of boredom during an endless speech. While the doctor is away from home, a booby-trapped corpse is delivered to the morgue. The always-alert and resourceful Nurse Dtui is the only one who notices something amiss, and her swift action saves the lives of several people, including an arrogant visiting doctor and Madame Daeng, Dr. Siri's fiancée. But most of the book concerns the doctor's eventful trip back from the meeting. He is kidnapped by seven female Hmong villagers who, under the direction of the village elder, call upon Yeh Ming, the thousand-year-old shaman who inhabits Dr. Siri's body, to perform an exorcism. The chief's daughter suffers the curse of the pogo stick (yes, there really is a pogo stick) and is possessed by a demon. Only Yeh Ming can free her soul. How all of this gets resolved is another example of the superb storytelling readers have come to expect from Cotterill.—Robert Saunderson, Berkeley Public Library, CA
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From Booklist

In his fourth outing, Dr. Siri Paiboun, the aged and antic national coroner of mid-1970s Laos, begins facing up to some tough consequences of the Communist takeover he helped bring about—especially the creeping corruption of his party’s elite and the persecution of those among the nomadic Hmong people who fought on the other side during the revolution. Siri sees the impact of this maltreatment firsthand when he and Judge Haeng, his bumbling, blustering boss, are kidnapped by Hmong villagers. They know Siri hosts the spirit of a thousand-year-old shaman and want him to lift the titular curse from their ragtag clan. Meanwhile, back at the morgue, Nurse Dtui and cop hubby Phosy tackle a Royalist plot involving booby-trapped corpses. Judge Haeng keeps the proceedings from becoming too grim by effecting a comic escape from the Hmong and then inadvertently eating a bowl of pig swill full of “anything unfit for human consumption . . . the inedible, the unpleasant and the indescribable.” But even with Cotterill dishing out decent helpings of broad humor, Curse still ranks as the darkest entry of this fine series. --Frank Sennett
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Product Details

  • Series: A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery (Book 5)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime; First Edition edition (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569474850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569474853
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #911,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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
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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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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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.
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The fifth Dr. Siri novel is constructed differently than the previous installments in that the subplots are not intertwined. In fact, the happenings back in Ventiane are set aside until the end of the novel when Siri’s friends fill him in on their activities since he departed for a government meeting in the north and was reported to have been kidnapped. Author Cotterill centers this novel on the plight of the Hmong some of whom supported the Pathet Lao and some of whom supported the royalist/American side of the conflict that eventuated in the communist takeover. Unvalued and persecuted by the fledgling communist government in the mid-1970s, their existence in Laos was threatened and many fled to Thailand. As the host of the spirit of ancient shaman Yeh Ming, Siri’s help is enlisted. I found this novel less satisfying than the earlier installments for several reasons. First, some aspects (the curse of the pogo stick itself and Judge Haeng’s foibles, for example) seem too silly for the seriousness of the Hmong people’s plight. I also am getting tired of “humorous” aspects of the frequent drinking to excess in each of these books. In this particular novel, detective work and mystery are underplayed. Although Nurse Dtui makes some crucial deductions early in the book, that story is the one put aside until the end of the book and the action occurs mostly off-stage. Siri’s deductions about the Hmong village’s need for an exorcism also are pretty much hidden from the reader until he pronounces his conclusions. And one mystery appears to remain at the end of the novel. Still, the story is engaging, the characters are colorful, and the writing is witty and clear.
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