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Author puts Lao coroner-detective on Asian literary map

Fictional sleuth fights crime while shining light on secretive country

British author and cartoonist Colin Cotterill provides insights into his Dr. Siri crime series, which has put Laos on the literary map, at the Bangkok Edge festival. (Photo by Peter Janssen)

CHUMPORN, Thailand -- Dr. Siri Paiboun was already beyond retirement age when he was appointed state coroner to the morgue in the Lao capital, Vientiane, shortly after Dec. 2, 1975, the day when the land-locked Southeast Asian nation officially became the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Some 12 books later, the famed Lao coroner-cum-detective is still going strong, solving murders, sassing communist officials, messing with the spirit world and slurping down tasty noodles cooked by his second wife, Madame Daeng.

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