The Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Disclaimer: Don’t get fooled by the title, this book is neither about the Canadian author David Gilmour nor Sir Naipaul.
First line: By the time the calendar pages had flipped around to 1978, Vientiane, the capital of the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, had become a dour place to live.
The great Dr. Siri, Laos’ only coroner is facing charges from the Housing Department of his country of subletting his house to a motley group of shady characters. He is faced with the charge of profiting from a house which had been allotted to him for his shelter by the party for free. As he decides to fight these charges, from Madam Daeng’s house cum noodle shop, where Siri is currently staying, by enlisting the loathsome Judge Haeng help in fighting off Comrade Koomki of the housing department, his professional expertise is called into service as a dead body of a woman is delivered to his morgue. With apparent signs of assault, Dr. Siri comes face to face with the fact, that a serial killer is killing off women in the country and it is up to him and his friends(Phosy, Civilai, Geung, Dtui and Daeng) to stop this killer and bring him to justice. Added to this gruesome crime, Siri gets on a personal job to find a mentally unstable Indian, crazy Rajid, who writes ridddles and whose father Mr. Tickoo works in an Indian restaurant.
I normally tend to stay away from the American serial killer crime novels. They are boring. The plots don’t engage me in anyway, and here is where this book scores. Full points to Cotterill, who wrote a serial killer novel and made it every bit interesting, and managed to keep me hooked till the last page had gone by. How did he do this? He kept a sub plot of finding Crazy Rajid, which kept the reader moving back and forth thereby driving off monotony. And, somehow his writing style made the parts which do not deal with the main plot interesting to read. Like Dr. Siri seeing spirits or the conversation between Civilai and Siri, or the scenes where Civilai tries to make people eat the buns baked by him.
Though going by Slash and Burn, I thought that even this book will have a high humor quotient, but it wasnt there. But whatever there was, was enough to add the spice of laughter to an otherwise brutal, chilling and gruesome crime novel.
P.S. Look out for the Communist mottos by Judge Haeng, they are present and they are as effective as ever.
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