In 1975 the Pathet Lao takes over Laos incorporating a communist bureaucracy centered from the capitol at Vientiane. Most of the country's intelligentsia fled but septuagenarian Paris trained physician Dr. Siri Paiboun remains behind expecting to gently retire. However, the new government names Siri state coroner. He deduces this was done because his superiors like Magistrate Haeng expect him to make no waves since he is the last breathing medical doctor still in country.
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Though Comrade Haeng tortures Siri with his required “burden sharing tutorials” that questions the obvious, the doctor shockingly takes his job seriously seeking the truth even when the brass wants heart attack as cause of death regardless of reality. He upsets the party with his inquires into the death of Comrade Kham's wife which Haeng claims was due to food poisoning. Siri further upsets the communist balance with his deeper look at the accidental deaths of three men who show signs of torture. As Haeng harangues, Siri sets things right.
The story line provides a deep look at Laos as the Communist Party comes to power while Siri applys logic to solve cases that his superior wants buried. His wry comments and asides satirizes his plight as a not so indoctrinated Communist who joined the party five decades ago because of how a woman who became his wife breathed.
The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner