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Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill
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Anarchy and Old Dogs (2007)

by Colin Cotterill

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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. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Aug 16, 2016 |
Sili is a charming old man working as the national coroner of Laos and doing lots of detective work on the side, to help people in general, to save the new (1970s) state of Laos, and to assuage his own curiosity, I suspect. I enjoyed his character and his friends and became very curious about Laos, although the whole political situation (and this series) was new for me and therefore the political plot Sili was trying to stop was a little complicated for me.

I listened to this and thought the reader, Clive Chafer, was a little dull but okay. He wasn't distracting from the story, which is important. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
In the fourth book of the Dr. Siri Paiboun series, an elderly blind dentist has been run down by a logging truck on the street in Vientiane just opposite the post office. His body is delivered to the morgue of 73 year old Dr. Siri Paiboun, the official/sole coroner of Laos. Before he can identify the corpse he must decipher a letter in the man's pocket, written in code and with invisible ink. With the help of his old friend, Civilai, now a senior member of the Laos politburo; Nurse Dtui; and Phosy, a police officer Dr. Siri discovers a plot to overthrow the government of Laos. We also meet an important new character, Madame Daeng, owner of a noodle shop renowned for its delicious dishes. Siri first met Daeng thirty-seven years years earlier when he was serving with the Free Lao movement. Siri's wife, Boua, has been dead for many years and seeing Madame Daeng again stirs new feelings in Siri.

I don't necessarily think this series will appeal to everyone but I completely love it. Dr. Siri’s lingering idealism, hidden beneath his cynical and humorous comments about the communist government he worked all his life to help install, gives the reader a unique look at 1970s Laos. The characters are in- depth and well written. The author evokes such an atmospheric feel of a country which is largely unfamiliar to many readers. I can't wait to read the next one....Curse of the Pogo Stick. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
I think these books just keep getting better. This is the fourth in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series.

"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. He traced the keyhole with his left hand and inserted the key with his right. From inside the wooden chamber came the scent of bygone correspondence: of brown-paper parcels and glue, of old parchment and secrets. His hand fell upon a thin envelope. He knew it would be there and he knew what it contained because only one other person was aware of the post office box address."

The first paragraph sets up the first of the mysteries to be solved. As Dr. Buagaew, the blind dentist, leaves the post office, he is killed by a runaway truck. Dr. Paiboun finds the letter, an encrypted note, in the pocket of the deceased's coat. He and his good friend Civilai travel from Vientiane to the doctor's town to try to unravel the meaning of what they discover after deciphering the note. Other mysteries unfold, and the good doctor reunites with an old friend.

Dr. Paiboun's spiritual helpers are less prevalent in this book. Nurse Dtui plays a big part again along with officer Phosi, and a new character, Auntie Bpoo, a fortune-teller transvestite, emerges. There is a lot of humor thrown in for good measure. It is the descriptions of 1970's Communist Laos that keep drawing me to this series.

April 2014 ( )
  NanaCC | Jul 26, 2015 |
Yet another winner in the Dr Siri series, again perfectly read. Dr Siri is the national coroner of Laos, in the early-mid 1970s, holding this position that he neither sought nor wanted. Lovely attitude towards life. Wonderful characters, good plots... Some magic/mysticism, but not too heavy handed. ( )
  DavidO1103 | May 2, 2015 |
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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.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 156947463X, Hardcover)

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-four, 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; Nurse Dtui (“Fatty”); Phosy, a police officer; and Aunt Bpoo, a transvestite fortune-teller, Dr. Siri solves the mystery of the note and foils a plot to overthrow the government of Laos.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:34 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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 mans pocket. But first he must decipher it; it is written in code and invisible ink. The dentists 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.… (more)

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