More on Colin Cotterill's spirits
"These small bamboo structures were miniature reconstructions of actual bridges but in this case they had no water to cross. They traditionally offered a shortcut for lost souls to return to their host. One was customary. Four suggested a hell of a lot of souls had gone missing from this particular house.""A hell of a lot of souls" is wonderful, resonant, funny and unexpected. It nicely captures the simultaneous irreverence and respect with which Cotterill portrays the worlds of the supernatural and of those who believe in it. Dr. Siri is both a scientist – the chief and only coroner in post-Communist-revolution Laos – and a shaman, an unwilling conduit to the spirit world. Does he believe in the spirits with which he comes into contact and which sometimes help him solve mysteries? He has no choice:
"My biggest problem as a practicing cynic, however, is that I'm aligned, against my will and better judgment, to another world. ... I don't know how it's possible, but damn it, it's there. So I resort to the rules of the supernatural. I begin by seeing whether the incredible can be explained through their rules. And when that world tells me something is off-kilter and implausible, I know I have to think as a human. I have to use logic. My visit to the Otherwold told me I had to look for earthly solutions to this mystery."That's one of the nicer accounts by a fictional detective of his own methods. Among the books' achievements, in addition to their engaging, sympathetic characters, their compassion, and their jabs at Communist bureaucracy, is that they invite respectful consideration, without dogma, mumbo-jumbo or embarrassment and with good humor, of the spiritual world and its role in human lives.
=======================The illustration of Curse of the Pogo Stick's UK cover comes from the author's own Web site, one of the cleverer and more amusing of its kind. Take a look.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009