Disco for the Departed

Monday, 11 October 2010

Colin Cotterill’s exploration of his basic cast of characters continues in Disco For The Departed, which finds Siri and Dtui called away to Huaphan province in the remote northeast of the country, providing Judge Haeng Somboun with the opportunity to remove Mr Geung from his post in the hospital mortuary.

Or at least that's the way it seems, while Siri and Dtui investigate the death of a Cuban who seems to have been buried alive in a concrete path on the way to the President's compound at Vieng Xai. 

Mr Gaeng, who has effectively been kidnapped by the authorities, reveals a character trait that might almost be labelled complacency but allows him to disappear unnoticed by the guards on the military convoy that was supposed to carry him off to a forced labour camp. Once he's made good his escape the mere fact of having to walk a couple of hundred kilometres is a minor obstacle in the face of his promise to look after the morgue while the boss and his assistant are away, so, putting one foot in front of the other, off he goes...

The investigation, on the other hand, isn't quite as straight forward.  The victim appears to be Cuban, and a black Cuban at that, but the most likely candidates left the area several months before. Aided again by his links to the spirit world, Siri works towards solving the case while Dtui, seconded to a hospital in the area has to contemplate an offer of marriage from the local head of security.

Since he's dedicated Party member who has gone to the trouble of obtaining official permission for the match before he broached the subject with the potential bride, the reader can probably guess the outcome, but the incident, like others in the stories, gives Cotterill a chance for a few sly digs at the authoritarian and bureaucratic targets that present themselves as fair targets for ridicule.

© Ian Hughes 2012