Anarchy and Old Dogs

Anarchy and Old Dogs

Book - 2007
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A blind retired dentist has been run down by a logging truck on the street in Vientiane just opposite the post office. His body is duly delivered to the morgue of Dr. Siri Paiboun, the official and only coroner of Laos. At the age of seventy-three, Dr. Siri is too old to be in awe of the new Communist bureaucrats for whom he now works. He identifies the corpse, helped by the letter in the man's pocket. But first he must decipher it; it is written in code and invisible ink. The dentist's widow explains that the enigmatic letters and numbers describe chess moves, but they are unlike any chess symbols Siri has previously encountered. With the help of his old friend, Civilai, now a senior member of the Laos politburo, and of Nurse Dtui (Fatty), Phosy, a police officer, and Aunt Bpoo, a transvestite fortune-teller, Dr. Siri solves the mystery of the note to the blind dentist and foils a plot to overthrow the government of Laos.
Publisher: Toronto : A.A. Knopf Canada, 2007
ISBN: 9780676979510
Branch Call Number: MYS F COT
Characteristics: 272 p. ; 20 cm

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m
miaone
Jun 03, 2017

I loved the first two books in the series. However, the 3rd book was too gruesome for me to read the whole book. This one, the fourth, took a little while to get going, but once a little boy's body is discovered, the child having died in strange circumstances, the plot takes off. There is a subplot about espionage and betrayal, but for me the essential part of the story is the one involving the death of a little boy. Siri's determination to find out how and why this character died is the heart of Cotterill's writing: the intelligence and deep morality of the main character and of the half-dozen or so secondary characters. It is for this that I continue to read the books in this series. It is so very satisfying, emotionally and intellectually, when Siri finally puts all the pieces together

c
carolannbagan
Oct 23, 2013

very funny books. the whole series is fun to read. one never knows just what dr suri and his cohorts will get up to next.

i
ilovewhippets
Jun 24, 2013

I agree that the setting and the point of view of the main character are novel. It is educational in that way. It is not one of the better novels I have ever read, by far. I liked that there was no graphic violence, etc. For that alone, it gets extra points. Yet, I found it hard to relate to the characters. Perhaps, because it is written from another, very different, culture's and socialist philosophy's points of view? It is not a bad story on its own. Possibly, the Asian readers would find it more understandable, and be able to relate better.

s
savtadina
Aug 09, 2012

Set in the mid to late 1970s in Communist Laos, Cotterill's wonderful fourth novel features Dr. Siri Paiboun, the Laotian national coroner, a man in his 70s. Cotterill worked in Laos for an international organization in the early 1990s, when Laos was very similar to the time he writes about. I have learned a tremendous amount about the culture in the country from this series. The books are not "violent" and are very thoughtful with excellent plot development. It is important to read the series in order. If anyone is looking for a thriller or high action mystery, this is not the book for her. It is one of the best mysteries that I have read in a long time.

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