Dr. Siri might finally be allowed to retire (again). Although he loves his two morgue assistants, he’s tired of being Laos’ national coroner - a job he never wanted in the first place. Plus, he’s pushing 80 and wants to spend some time with his wife before his untimely death, which has been predicted by the local transvestite fortune teller.
But retirement is not in the cards for Dr. Siri after all. He’s dragged into one last job for the Lao government: supervising an excavation for the remains of a US fighter pilot who went down in the remote northern Lao jungle 10 years earlier. The presence of American soldiers in Laos is a hot-button issue for both the Americans and the Lao involved, and the search party includes high-level politicians and scientists.
When a member of the party is found dead, a chain of accidents that Dr. Siri suspects are not completely accidental is set off. Everyone is trapped in a cabin in the jungle, and the bodies are starting to pile up. Can Dr. Siri get to the bottom of the MIA pilot’s mysterious story before the fortune teller’s prediction comes true?
Colin Cotterill was born in London. He has taught in Australia, the United States, and Japan and lived for many years in Laos, where he worked for nongovernmental social-service organizations. He now writes full time and lives in Thailand. His books have been Book Sense Picks, and he won the Dilys Award and a Crime Writers’ Association Library Dagger for Thirty-Three Teeth.
©2011 Colin Cotterill (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Praise for the Dr. Siri Paiboun series: “A series of terrifically beguiling detective novels steeped in local color and history.” (New York Times Book Review)
Cotterill has created intriguing and original characters, set them in 1970s Laos, and given them fresh and fascinating stories. Slash and Burn is the eighth in the series and it doesn't disappoint.
Dr Siri is still recovering from his harrowing experiences in Love Songs from a Shallow Grave when he finds himself sent out of Vientiane on a joint Lao-American mission to find either a missing American airman or his remains. Dr. Siri manages to involve his entire entourage in this case and, as usual, the book offers humor, history, adventure, mystery and character development in nearly equal measures -- as well as some irreverent social observations.
If you haven't read a Dr. Siri book yet start with The Coroners Lunch now. There are eight books in the series and you won't stop until you've read all eight. Lucky you! There's a great adventure ahead of you.
It's completely possible to fall in love with fictional characters. I've done it before. J. K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' (1997-2007) is an easy one. Some of the best times of my life were reading all seven books aloud to my (now adult) son. Stephen Colbert? I know he'll do well as the host of "Late Show" but I'll always miss "The Colbert Report" (2005-2014). Add the incomparable Dr. Siri Paiboun, the National Medical Examiner of mid- to late-1970's Laos and his wife, the talented noodle chef Madame Tseng to my beloved imaginary friends.
Dr. Siri is asked to investigate the 1969 disappearance? death? of a US senator's pilot son in Laos. Not that the Air America was a CIA front; not that Air America was running drugs and arms in Southeast Asia; and not that the United Stares was ever in Laos. The reluctant coroner but happy adventurer is allowed to select a pathologist's dream team to make the trip to the mountains of Laos. He chooses Madame Tseng: Nurse Dtui and her husband, Inspector Posey; Comrade Civilai; and Mr. Tsung, the morgue assistant with Down syndrome. Auntie Puu, a transvestite fortune teller, unexpectedly hitches a helicopter ride and joins the party at the Friendship Hotel. Add an American team, including the tragically alcoholic Major Harold Potter, and an unexpectedly claustrophobic setting, and more than one mystery, and it's an unexpectedly complex plot.
Dr. Siri's also the host of a 1,000 year old Hmong spirit, Ya Ming. Ya Ming's got lots of friends and lots of business he sometimes accomplishes without his host's knowledge. Cotterill did something in this book that he didn't do in the previous 7 in the series: there was a Ya Ming ex Machina. I guess it's acceptable as a literary device, but it's a bit of a disappointment.
Cotterill's books are full of witty dialogue and funny, frank characters. Be prepared to laugh out loud, often. Clive Chafer is a droll, memorable narrator and moves between English, Lao, Thai and Hmong pronunciations fluidly.
[Sorry for any misspellings - I did my best based on what I heard. If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]
I was very excite to see this addition to this Colin Cotterill collection. It was not a disappointment. Subtle and not so subtle humour as usual.
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