Against all his expectations, Dr Siri Paiboun has rather enjoyed his first five months in office. Now, as hot-season nights close in, Siri is spirited away from Laos' steamy capital on a Matter of National Security. Arriving in Luang Prabang, he's a busy man, examining carbonized corpses, dining with the deposed king, attending a shamans' conference and being rescued by the ghost of an elephant. Not that Siri's complaining ... Luang Prabang is in mountains and a good fifteen degrees cooler. Meanwhile, back at Vientiane headquarters, it's hot. Bloody hot - savaged bodies are piling up in Siri's absence. Is it the missing black bear from the circus, or could it be a weretiger? Siri's trusty assistant Nurse Dtui goes snooping but, unlike her boss, the spirits aren't looking out for her... And just what creature, if any, has thirty-three teeth?