Colin Cotterill is a cartoonist, illustrator and novelist. An Australian citizen, born in London, he has lived and been employed in various educational roles in Australia, Israel, the USA, Japan and Laos, before settling in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. For the last several years he has been involved with local nongovernmental agencies working to prevent child prostitution and rehabilitate abused children, and he recently set up the Books for Laos project, which raises money for the production of children's books.
Laos, 1979: Retired coroner Siri Paiboun and his wife, Madame Daeng, have never been able to turn away a misfit. As a result, they share their small Vientiane house with an assortment of homeless people, mendicants, and oddballs. One of these oddballs is Noo, a Buddhist monk, who rides out on his bicycle one day and never comes back, leaving only a cryptic note in the refrigerator: a plea to help a fellow monk escape across the Mekhong River to Thailand.
Naturally, Siri can’t turn down the adventure, and soon he and his friends find themselves running afoul of Lao secret service officers and famous spiritualists. Buddhism is a powerful influence on both morals and politics in Southeast Asia. In order to exonerate an innocent man, they will have to figure out who is cloaking terrible misdeeds in religiosity.