Cotterill, Colin. Anarchy and Old Dogs. New York: Soho, 2007.
Reason read: to continue the series started in May in honor of Laos Rocket Day. This is book four.
The opening scene sets the stage for the mystery: Dr. Buagaew, a retired blind dentist, has been run down by a logging truck after picking up a mysterious letter from the post office. Dr. Siri Paibaum, now 73 years old and still described as Laos’s reluctant coroner, must figure out who was Buagaew and why had he a letter written in invisible ink in his pocket when he died? Another death is far more disturbing. A ten year old boy is found dead in a river. He has two different rates of decomposition and his death doesn’t look accidental. Who would have wanted this boy dead and why?
For the most part, all of Siri’s friends are in Anarchy and Old Dogs except this time Mr. Geung is recovering from his ordeal in Disco and is only brought up in mention at the beginning and end. Dtui’s mother has died and best friend Civilai has a new secret.
An element of Cotterill’s writing that makes the Dr. Siri series so interesting is his “cross -contamination” of characters. Siri was inspired by Inspector Maigret who is a character of mysteries written by Georges Simeon.
Cotterill also includes a running commentary on the political climate. Laos has reached a point where the Communism government has become increasingly oppressive. Oppressive to the point that “even the death of livestock, even from natural causes, had to be accounted for in writing” (p 3).
Other quotes I thought worth mentioning, “But he felt bad about pulling out the wrong teeth and that” (p 31), ” When you are drinking with a corpse there is no such thing as irreverence” (p 38) and “As many counterrevolutionaries would have you know, when in the midst of diverting a national crisis, there is always the case for taking a little time off for tourism” (p 139).
Author fact: Cotterill has taught in Australia.
Book trivia: Anarchy is the fourth book in the Dr. Siri series. I said that already, but that’s all I got on this one.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the simple chapter called “Laos” (p 128).