"What do we do if she comes back again?" Civilai asked.Madame Peung is the woman who wouldn't die.
"Who?" said Siri.
"Madame Peung." (ch. 13)
Even though the villagers saw her after she was shot and watched her body cremated on a pyre, there she was again, walking around as if nothing had happened. Never mind that she now has a slight Vietnamese accent that she hadn't before. The village was convinced she was a witch returned from the dead.
Dr. Siri Paiboun, the Lao national coroner who lives in the small village, believes in the spirit world and convinces the newly risen Madame Peung to teach him to talk with spirits from the other world. Siri's wife, Daeng, is more skeptical. She has more to worry about with the return of a crazed Frenchman from her past intent on killing Daeng. Siri is hard pressed to protect his wife with the help of the local police.
Siri and Daeng were upriver when the Frenchman first showed up to terrorize their village. Siri had been sent to oversee the Lao navy trying to recover the body of a general sunk on a boat at the bottom of the Mekong River. This recovery plan was put together by the general's brother, who enlists the help of the spirit medium Madame Peung. But there is something more sinister behind this excavation than what it seems. Siri has both this and the problem of the Frenchman to take care of.
My thoughts: A book with unusual but striking characters in an unusual series, featuring the Lao coroner Siri Paiboun, who is both a medical man and a sleuth. The combination of Lao beliefs and culture, and the history of the resistance against the French and Russian presence in the country are blended into the novel. This is the ninth in the series featuring the charismatic Siri and his wife Daeng. I've read two of the other novels but am eager to read all the rest!
Title: The Woman Who Wouldn't Die: A Dr. Siri Mystery Set in Laos
Author: Colin Cotterill
Published February 19, 2013; Soho Crime
Source: review book from publisher
Objective rating: 5/5
Submitted to Cym Lowell's Book Review Link-up