I really enjoy the humor and irony of this mystery series. The characters are engaging and it is fascinating to read about Laos in the 70's and the challenges that the national (ie only) coroner faces on a daily basis. Everything from oppressive bureaucracy, lack of chemicals, limited resources (for example, the lab has one camera and is allowed 4 photos per "guest"---they save the last few for weddings, etc. and try not to get the photos mixed up), the fact that all autopsies must take place quickly as the cadavers are literally on ice, and the overwhelming influence of the communist government that frowns on any determination that a death is from anything other than natural causes. Most of his cases have political overtones and this one is no exception. All of that was enough to get me to 3 1/2 stars.
It didn't get any farther with me because the main mystery (there are usually several in these stories) is so far fetched that I just found it to be rather silly. Others may disagree, and I fully intend on continuing with the series because I am still enjoying these characters and their strange world.
3 1/2 stars