Curse of the Pogo Stick

Monday, 11 October 2010

From the start of Curse of the Pogo Stick it's obvious that somebody is out to do away with Dr Siri and his growing bunch of associates, which isn't going to be as easy as it might seem, since Siri is off in remote Xiang Khouang on a Party junket with Judge Haeng.

Newly installed Russian refrigeration at the morgue has deep-chilled the body of an army officer to the point where he needs to be thawed before the autopsy can be carried out, and in Siri's absence the task is delegated to a surgeon recently returned from a lengthy stint studying in East Germany. Thanks to his late arrival, Dtui has plenty of time to consider matters, and comes to the conclusion that the body has been booby-trapped.

Which, of course, it has been.

Given the fact that Phosy's off providing security in Xiang Khouang and the need for somebody to figure out who's got it in for the coroner's circle, the task is always going to fall to newly-pregnant Dtui and Siri's newly-arrived fiancé Madame Daeng.

As it turns out, Phosy gets back to base well before Siri since the Prime Minister, in his wisdom, has decided that the Justice Department's return to Luang Prabang should involve a road trip rather than a flight, which puts Siri in a position to be kidnapped by seven female Hmong guerillas and brings him into contact with the pogo stick.

In other hands, the kidnapping would be part of the Hmong resistance campaign against the government, but, as it turns out, the remaining inhabitants of a Hmong village need Siri's shamanic alter ego Yeh Ming to exorcise the demon who has impregnated the village chief's daughter.

The Hmong, having fought on the losing side against the Pathet Lao insurgency, are keen to escape persecution by leaving the country, but the chief's daughter needs to be cured before they go. 

As an aside, we learn that the eponymous pogo stick, brought back to the village by one of the young men recruited by the Americans, has become intertwined with the fate of the villagers.

Meanwhile, Judge Haeng is on the run from the supposed resistance fighters and further unsuccessful attempts on the lives of those working at the morgue are made. 

A parcel of poisoned cashew cakes, supposedly sent by Siri, account for the government auditors examining the contents of the morgue filing cabinet, and when Mr Geung recognizes The Lizard, a notorious anti-government terrorist in the background of some hospital happy snaps it seems Dtui and Phosy have walked headlong into a trap while Siri is detained elsewhere.

While things work out in the end and everybody should be happy with the result, Siri's experiences among the Hmong leave him concerned about their welfare and what he finds when he follows up that interest is far from reassuring, given the appearance of the cursed pogo stick as a children's plaything at a government function.

© Ian Hughes 2012