Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill
Quirky Commie murders?
Back in 1978 the aged Dr Siri Paiboun, hero of the Laos revolution and now national coroner, is about to become a married man and father of two at the ripe old age of seventysomething.
Indeed. Not only has Dr Siri been snaffled off the shelf by an aged beauty, a former comrade in arms, he’s also forced to attend the Communist Party’s Quarterly Planning and Progress Conference.
A thousand flowers will bloom
And he’s being haunted by ghostly American thugs who chase him down the dark streets of an otherworld ‘hood sneering racial insults.
Where does the pogo stick come in?
What? Oh, the title? The toy is worshipped by Hmong hill people. Someone brought it home from a war and it caused mayhem - all the kids fought over it. Convinced it was demonically possessed, the tribe set it up with its own shrine.
And sure why not?
While Dr Siri is up in the hills with the pogo stick worshippers, his assistants - lovely Dtui, and Mr Geung, whose Down’s Syndrome makes him particularly efficient as Dr Siri’s assistant - are trying to thaw out a suspicious deep-frozen corpse.
Where do writers get these ideas?
My question exactly. But this series of books about Dr Siri have a sweet, feelgood vibe that’s kindly and reassuring. The characters are all good people, except the ones who are satisfyingly bad.
And tell me this, what’s a communist doing being haunted?
You know how it is with occupied countries - it’s not just the country that gets occupied. Soon the citizens are culturally colonised too. Dr Siri has become the habitation of a thousand-year-old shaman, who is a magnet for bad guys from the spirit world.
Best thing you’ve ever read?
Wouldn’t quite go that far. But if you want a sweet and fuzzy book with plenty of gentle laughs, this is the one for you.