The Woman Who Wouldn't Die
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The series is about a 70-something doctor who finds himself appointed as the national coroner, and must do the best he can amid shortages of supplies - and lots of political pressure.
Here, Siri is increasingly frustrated at the limitations of his ability to see spirits - he can sense and see them but he can't talk with them, making it difficult for him to work out what they're trying to ask. It's this that nudges him into a trip to meet "the used-to-be woman," who allegedly came back to life after being murdered and her body placed on the traditional funeral pyre; she now claims to have significant gifts in the spirit-contact line, and Siri hopes she can teach him something.
But of course there's a lot more going on than that, and the number of conspiracies, threats, secrets from the past, and concerns about the future keeps increasing as the tension ratchets up. (I admit I was glad I'd read some of the later books in the series, so I knew who was going to survive this one!)
A significant part of the book deals with Madame Daeng, phenomenal noodle-maker and Siri's beloved late-in-life wife, as she writes her memoirs at his suggestion. We learn just how deadly a fighter she was in her youth, which explains some of her badassery even as an arthritic older woman - but also shows just how tough life has been for the people in Laos and surrounding countries during the many wars, internal conflicts, and transfers of power. Indeed, there's a darker tone to this book than in many, although our beloved characters still manage to banter as cleverly as ever.
The series continues with Six and a Half Deadly Sins.
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