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March 3, 2013 / schulerbooks

The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die, by Colin Cotterill


When the Revolution erupted in Laos, in the 1970’s, Dr. Siri Paiboun was a grumpy widower with no faith in man, no tolerance for nonsense, and not a whole lot to live for. When the Communists essentially press-ganged him into being the national coroner (all other candidates had fled, or been shot) he wasn’t very happy about it. But when a genuine mystery was placed in front of him, he somehow managed to overcome his situation and solve it, as well awaken a wise but irritating ghost that had been lurking inside of his soul for all those years.

That was quite a few novels ago. In that time, Siri has learned to walk the line between revolutionary appearances and counter-revolutionary mischief — using his position to see that the right thing gets done, and keep ordinary people from being strangled by communist bungling. He’s learned more about the ancient spirit he’s sharing a body with, and has used that connection to solve cases in more than one realm. And he’s also fallen in love, again, and married, and actually looking forward to the future, even if he has to tweak the noses of the revolutionaries to get there.

Of course, that’s about when things get interesting in a deadly sort of way.

For one thing, there’s this well-to-do village woman who was shot and killed by a burglar. The villagers saw her die, and burned her body, but now she’s back from the dead as if nothing happened. And she claims that she can speak with the dead she’d temporarily been alongside, which has led to a weird situation where a Lao General might be letting her help him find the long-lost remains of his dead brother.

As a fellow clairvoyant, Dr. Siri feels that he owes it to check out her story, and so he and his wife take a bit of a working vacation. It’s a chance to hob-nob with the higher-ups, after all, and there’s nothing more than Siri likes doing than enjoying their hospitality while getting to poke fun at them. And the fact that the returned woman is quite the looker is a nice side benefit — much to his wife’s chagrin.

But while they’re gone, a strange and dangerous fellow comes into their town, searching for his wife. It would seem that, a long time ago, she had an encounter with this fellow, and it left him the worse for wear. Now he’s back and wants revenge, but what exactly did she do?

Both mysteries are going to dump Siri and his wife into bad history and old blood, and he’ll have to really flex his spiritual muscles — as well as dodge his wife’s flashes of jealousy — if he’s to discover the secret of The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die.

Fans of this long-running series will not be disappointed by its latest chapter; Dr. Siri is a hoot, as always, and his methods of finding out the truth are both unique and very human. But his wife’s full story, finally told in this novel, is as much of a star attraction as the mystery, itself. Expect to be up late reading this, because once the full scope of what’s going on is revealed, you will not want to put it down for fear of who might next suffer for the sins of the past.

The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die is out now, and on our shelves.


One Comment

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  1. schulerbooks / Mar 3 2013 5:48 pm

    And we have learned that, in the US edition, the last page may be missing. If you bought the book and are wondering what happened, please go here.

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