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The Rat Catchers' Olympics (A Dr. Siri…
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The Rat Catchers' Olympics (A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery)

by Colin Cotterill

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I am still laughing. The idea of the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, in 1980, sending a team to the Olympic games in Moscow, which were boycotted by most of the Western world, is hilarious. They didn't have athletes. In fact the Russians come to train them. The trainer's advice to the boxers, 'Take the hit, then lie on the mat until the counting is finished' gives you some idea of the standards.

If you have not met Colin Cotterill's Dr Siri Paiboun, his wife, and misfit/crazy companions you are missing a chance to poke fun at politicians, politics, bureaucracy, and the human race. And laugh out loud as you read.

Siri is an elderly retired coroner, his companions are all a little odd, his wife is delightful. When news breaks that a Laotian team is heading to Moscow there is no way Siri is going to miss out. Forbidden by the government as not a good representative for their country he manages, by devious means, to be the only doctor available.

Of course when they get to Moscow for the 1980 Olympic Games they soon find themselves involved in a murder mystery. One of their team is accused of murder, and it soon becomes a race between Siri and the Moscow authorities to clear up the muddle and clear the Laotian team.

And the rats? Well that is one competition they don't lose.

One of the better Siri novels and well worth a read. ( )
  p.d.r.lindsay | Mar 6, 2018 |
USSR, situational-humor, verbal-humor, suspense, supernatural, olympic-games, snark-fest, mystery, Laos

This one exceeded the pre-publication hype! I did a fast book-a-day binge reread of the series to make certain that I didn't miss anything, but it wasn't necessary (but it was fun). Lots of laughs and snickers, mystery and suspense, wacky characters, red herrings, ghosts, and there are murders and intrigue both in Moscow and Laos. The Lao are thrilled to be flown to and housed in Moscow, even knowing that they have little hope of winning, but everyone around them cheers them on and gets caught up in their enthusiasm. I loved it!
Clive Chafer continues to keep me from going crazier trying to pronounce unfamiliar names and words while adding to the personalities of the characters. ( )
  jetangen4571 | Aug 16, 2017 |
Colin Cotterill's book titles always catch the eye and the imagination, and The Rat Catchers' Olympics is no exception. Many times there are double meanings to these titles as there is here, with both two- and four-legged rats that need to be caught. No matter where you live, elderly Dr. Siri and his wife Madame Daeng are good people who know how to get so much enjoyment out of life even though they have very little in the way of material goods. Take for example Siri's skill in wrangling free vacations to interesting places. No one's better at it, and readers are always guaranteed an adventure when he reaches his destination.

I love Cotterill's gentle sense of humor that can be turned toward anyone or anything, and his cast of characters is one of the best in crime fiction. Everyone has a role in solving this excellent mystery. Between many of the characters' advanced ages and the paranoia of the Communist governments involved, these characters may not move quite like a well-oiled machine, but they get the job done, they get it done right, and they do it with a smile. You can't ask for better. I have said that the mystery is excellent, and it is. My radar must have been in fine working order when I read this because I did figure out whodunit, but Cotterill is so wily that he kept me worried. Was I right, or did I fall for a red herring? I like that.

The sense of place is marvelous in The Rat Catchers' Olympics; I really did feel as though I was walking through the Olympic Village and attending events along with the cast of characters. The best part about it is that the Laotian athletes-- many of whom are young people from tiny villages who've never worn running shoes-- remind readers of what the Olympics are really all about.

This is a book to be enjoyed from first page to last. If you haven't experienced a Dr. Siri mystery before, I hope you'll give one a try. This series is really something special. ( )
  cathyskye | Aug 14, 2017 |
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"1980: The Democratic People's Republic of Laos is proud to be competing in its first-ever Olympics. Of course, half the world is boycotting the Moscow Summer Olympic Games to protest Russia's recent invasion of Afghanistan, but that has made room for athletes from countries that are usually too small or underfunded to be competitive--countries like Laos. Ex-national coroner of Laos Dr. Siri Paiboun may be retired, but he and his wife, Madame Daeng, would do just about anything to have a chance to visit Moscow, so Siri finagles them the job of medical oversight for the Olympians. Most of the athletes are young and innocent village people who have never worn shoes, never mind imagined anything as marvelous as the Moscow Olympic Village. As the competition heats up, however, Siri begins to suspect that one of the athletes is not who he says he is. Fearing a conspiracy, Siri and his friends investigate, liaising in secret with Inspector Phosy back home in Laos to see if the man might be an assassin. But Siri's progress is derailed when another Lao Olympian is accused of murder. Now in the midst of a murky international incident, Dr. Siri must navigate not one but two paranoid and secretive government machines to make sure justice is done"--… (more)

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