In 1977 Dr. Buagaew a blind dentist is run over by a Vientiane truck, killing him instantly. Everyone who witnessed the tragedy assumes the late pedestrian obviously owed karmic debt so no tears were shed. As is the case in these types of vehicular deaths, the Laotian National Coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun is directed to perform a cursory review. He and his capable assistant Nurse Dtui assume nothing of their inquiry even when they find an odd anomaly of blank papers on the victim.
Paiboun realizes that the papers contain encoded notes written in invisible ink. He and Dtui with the assistance of his closest comrades Police Officer Phosy and Politburo member Civilai begin to find clues related to the secret writings that to their shock is simply moves in a game of chess that sends the coroner to the city of Pakse where he begins to piece the puzzle together of a plot to overthrow the Communist regime.
Combining humorous eccentric characters like a fortune telling transvestite Auntie Bpoo and the corpse as a practicing blind dentist inside a strong serious investigation, Colin Cotterill continues his great late 1970s Laos mystery series with another excellent entry. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the truck hits the dentist and never slows down until the final confrontation between anarchists and the old dogs like the coroner.