Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: Slash and Burn by Colin Cotterill

In this latest adventure of the ever-entertaining Dr. Siri Paiboun, national coroner of Laos, the good doctor is "chosen" by the party leaders to accompany his nemesis Judge Haeng as members of a multi-national team going to a remote site in Thailand to find out what actually happened when the son of a US Senator crashed his helo in this unknown village. There are varying versions of how the aviator came to be in the area where his helicopter crashed, and how the chopper wreckage was discovered.  The task now is to find out if the pilot is dead (no human remains have been found), locate the body, or determine what actually happened to him.  To add to the mix, Cotterill gives us a stereotypical pompous US politician in white suit who wants to pop in for a photo op whenever they find the body he is convinced is at the site.

There are the usual and always entertaining contretemps between the Laos, the Vietnamese, the Chinese, the Americans, but I think this one is the best of the series.  The mystery is much more developed and coherently unveiled, the characters by now have reached a maturity that enables the reader to concentrate on the person instead of the quirks, although there are several new players who definitely contribute to the story's charm as well as the plot's intricacy.  The young interpreter "Peach Short" is a definite addition and I hope if the series continues that Cotterill can find a way to include her in future adventures.

As the story unfolds, and the clues are revealed, the mystery becomes more involved. The history of the US "non-involvment" in the area during the Vietnam Conflict is well handled and, as with all the previous stories in the series, quite educational.   The ending is well developed, thrilling and unexpected, once again leaving the reader wondering if Dr. Siri will continue to offer his skills to his country, or if somehow, somewhere, he'll be allowed to retire and relax to sip whiskey with his friend Civilai by the side of the river before going home to Madame Deung and her wonderful noodles.

Slash and Burn: A Dr. Siri Mystery Set in Laos 

Author: Colin Cotterill
Publisher-Format: Soho Crime Hardcover, 290 pages
  audio by Blackstone Audio, 8 hours, 11 minutes
Year of publication: 2011
Narrator: Clive Chafer
Subject: recovering remains of Vietnam War MIAs in Thailand
Setting: Laos and Thailand
Series: Dr. Siri Paiboun
Genre: mystery, forensicsd
Source: public library download

1 comment:

  1. I've read only one in the series but your recommendation makes me want to read this one too.
    Dr. Siri is quite a character!


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