- Publisher: Soho Press Inc
- Format: Paperback | 272 pages
- Dimensions: 117mm x 183mm x 23mm | 249g
- Publication date: 1 August 2008
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 1569475016
- ISBN 13: 9781569475010
- Sales rank: 131,629
The fourth Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery When a blind former dentist is run over by a truck, Dr. Siri Paiboun, the reluctant national coroner of Laos, suspects that this was no traffic accident. A coded message in invisible ink is recovered from the dentist s body, and Dr. Siri begins to follow clues that hint at deep and dangerous political intrigue. Dr. Siri only intended to investigate a murder; is he now being drawn into an insurrection? Will he, as a fortune teller predicts, betray his country?"
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Colin Cotterill is the author of nine other books in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series, including "The Coroner s Lunch," "Thirty-Three Teeth," "Disco for the Departed," and "Six and a Half Deadly Sins." His fiction has won a Dilys Award and a CWA Dagger in the Library. He lives in Chumphon, Thailand, with his wife and six deranged dogs."
By Cathy G. Cole 14 Nov 2009
First Line: The post office box was eighteen across, twelve down, and it had a loop of wool wound around the door so Dr. Buagaew wouldn't miss it.
By this fourth book in the series, I feel as though I'm visiting old friends who are glad to see me on their doorstep. Dr. Siri, the septuagenarian national coroner of Laos, has to identify the victim of a traffic accident who is carrying a message written in invisible ink and in code. Deciphering the note reveals that the corpse was a blind dentist who was involved in a plot to overthrow the government. Dr. Siri isn't the only one wondering why on earth someone would send coded messages written in invisible ink to a blind man.
This series is such a winner because there are so many layers to the books. Yes, there are interesting mysteries, but there's so much more! Cotterill's characters are marvelous. Dr. Siri is a former soldier who spent many years of his life fighting for the Communist overthrow of Laos. The Communists have now been in control for two years, and he's monumentally underwhelmed by the government's results. Instead of becoming a sour old man, he's learned to focus on the people around him and to enjoy one of the prerogatives of old age: being a bit eccentric. Siri's morgue assistant, Mr. Geung, has Down's Syndrome, yet he is a valuable member of the team. Siri's nurse, Dtui, may look like a very happy "standing refrigerator", but she's extremely intelligent and observant. Although Siri would miss her sorely, he knows that she deserves better and he's been helping her try to get on the fast track. These are just three of the characters that make this series so special.
Along the path to finding out who's trying to overthrow the government, there are many scenes that made me laugh and warmed my heart. Siri, Dtui and a police officer friend named Phosy attend a funeral and want to give the departed a good send-off. As a result, they imbibe a bit too much rice wine....
"I feel like bathroom mold," Phosy said, his voice like a plow dragged over rocks....
Dtui was squeezing her own wrist. "I'm afraid there may be some blood left in my alcohol stream. We're medical personnel; we should know better. Stimulate my brain, someone, before it pickles. Give me a job."
And when Siri and his friend, Civilai, leave Vientiane to investigate the planned rebellion, the only transportation they can find is an old Jeep that has no brake fluid. It has a top speed "somewhere between walking and running with a stone in your shoe," and the only way you can stop it is by finding something soft to crash into. A vehicle like that can lend zest to any investigation.
By far the most heartwarming scene in Anarchy and Old Dogs is when Madame Daeng tells Siri of the young girl she taught to read. Anyone who loves to read is guaranteed to get a lump in the throat when reading that.
Although I do enjoy the mysteries in this series, that is not why I love reading them so much. Once I've closed the book on the last page of a Colin Cotterill mystery, I feel as though I've traveled back in time to visit a culture almost completely alien to my own. I come away from my visit knowing that I'm connected to that other culture by the common bonds of humanity... and by one of the best cast of characters to be found anywhere in fiction.
If you aren't acquainted with Dr. Siri, what's stopping you? As with all character-rich books, I would advise anyone who wants to try this series to start at the beginning with The Coroner's Lunch.
Praise for "Anarchy and Old Dogs" "A series of terrifically beguiling detective novels . . . Whimsical, more personal stories that feature Siri and an equally memorable set of supporting characters . . . A wry, seasoned, off hand style that has been the secret weapon of this unexpectedly blithe and charming series." --Janet Maslin, "The New York Times" "Cotterill's portrait of his world gains depth and breath. Using a twisty mystery as a MacGuffin, he takes droll aim at the absurdities of recent history, all the more fascinating for their plausibility." --"Kirkus Reviews"" " "Cotterill's delightful fourth novel to feature Dr. Siri Paiboun . . . nicely blends the supernatural, humor and intrigue . . . This sometimes slapstick, sometimes serious, but always lively mystery is sure to bring the author many new readers." --"Publishers Weekly " "Think "What's Up, Tiger Lily" with Mao taking over for Woody Allen." --Bloomberg.com Praise for the Dr. Siri series "Siri's lingering idealism, hidden beneath his cynical--and often hilarious--digs at the government, provide unexpected emotional depth." --"Entertainment Weekly" "You get a real feeling for what Laos was like in the '70s. The humor is wonderful, too--very subtle, very British." --Kathy Reichs "Humane and hilarious . . . The charmingly convoluted tale that results is good fun, better than most crime fiction." --The Boston Phoenix