Thirty-Three Teeth

Dr. Siri Paiboun is your average 70-something Laotian coroner who sees and talks to spirits, thinks he’s the reincarnation of a 1,050-year-old Hmong shaman, and spends much of his time flouting the whims of his country’s wacky Communist government. But Colin Cotterill overcomes the potential pitfalls in his rather unpredictable mystery, Thirty-Three Teeth, by triumphantly braving the tightrope between quirky humor (”Diarrhea, in its most vindictive state, can erase even thoughts of terror”) and the surreal macabre (”He stood there over me, wrenched at his head with both hands, and snapped his own neck. He almost pulled it clean off”). Oddly, moments of would-be silliness — when Siri tells his disgruntled and dying ex-neighbor, ”You have to beg forgiveness from the spirit of the dog for what you did” — emerge instead as tragically funny and magically sublime.

Thirty-Three Teeth
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