It's 1975 and Laos' new communist regime is having teething problems. Dr Siri Paiboun, a charming and crotchety retired surgeon is called back into harness as chief coroner, despite having no training for the post.
When the wife of a Party leader is wheeled into the morgue, eyebrows are raised. Then three more bodies are found - but these are Vietnamese soldiers, and Siri may have an international incident on his hands. Are the deaths linked?
The plucky septaugenarian steps out of party line and, with the help of old friends, his staff, Hmong shamans and dream visits from the dead, he goes digging for answers. Lucky for Siri the spirits are mostly on side.