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Anarchy And Old Dogs (Dr. Siri Paiboun #4)

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,103 Ratings  ·  200 Reviews
The fourth Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery

When a blind former dentist is run over by a truck, Dr. Siri Paiboun, the reluctant national coroner of Laos, suspects that this was no traffic accident. A coded message in invisible ink is recovered from the dentist’s body, and Dr. Siri begins to follow clues that hint at deep—and dangerous—political intrigue. Dr. Siri only intended to i
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Soho Crime (first published August 1st 2007)
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Jun 19, 2013 Carol. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of eccentric aged detectives
Recommended to Carol. by: Richard Derus
Reading about Dr. Siri gives me the urge to sit down by a slow-moving river with a Lao cocktail (per Dr. Siri--half rice whiskey and the other half rice whiskey).

This time Dr. Siri and his long-term comrade Civilai are drawn into an investigation after a blind dentist is found dead, a letter written in invisible ink tucked inside his pocket. Dr. Siri consults a school teacher to break the code (and how I love Cotterill's affection for talented teachers!), leading Siri and Civilai on a journey to
Anarchy and Old Dogs is the fourth in the Dr. Siri series, set in 1970s Laos. For those new to the series, our protagonist is a 74 year old doctor who, upon the Communist takeover of Laos from its royal rulers, notwithstanding his lack of training and interest, is now the single Laotian coroner. He has no resources or equipment, and his colleagues are a nurse who aspires to attend med school in Russia, and an assistant who is as loyal as he is mentally limited. The cast of characters is rounded ...more
Richard Derus
Aug 02, 2014 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: -14,975* of five

The Book Report: Fourth of the Dr. Siri Investigations series set in 1970s Laos, post-Vietnam War era. Dr. Siri and his best pal since jungle-fighting revolutionary youth, Comrade Civilai the Politburo senior cadre and all-around curmudgeon, uncover a major problem in the course of an investigation into the death of an old blind dentist whose habit of coming by bus to Vientiane, the capital, to pick up a letter written in invisible ink every week is interrupted by a runaw
Feb 22, 2011 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Dr. Siri !!!! Thank you Colin Cotterill for continuing this series. I loved the first book in the series, The Coroner's Lunch, but I swear that they keep getting better with each subsequent book ! They are full of humor, political sarcasm, history of Laos and their culture and wonderful zany characters who you get attached to more and more with each book. And of course there's always a mystery or two for Dr. Siri and friends to figure out, sometimes with the help of dead people who arrive ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I enjoyed this much more than I did Disco For The Departed. Although some of Cotterill's favourite Dr Siri motifs are still firmly in place, there is less emphasis on the "paranormal" aspect and more story. It reminded me strongly of The Coroner's Lunch, the book I found by accident and, like this volume, devoured in 24 hours.

A blind dentist makes a weekly trip into town to pick up his mail, and is crushed by a runaway truck. A young boy's body is fished out of the Mekhong River, tangled in a f
First Sentence: The post office box was eighteen across, twelve down, and it had a loop of wool around the door so Dr. Buagaew wouldn’t miss it.

A blind man, killed when hit by a bus, is carrying an envelope containing an apparently blank sheet of paper. Not only is it not blank, but it could have dire consequences for the country. Dr. Siri travels to a small village where a governor’s deputy died from electrocution in his bath. Was it assassination, suicide, accident or murder? A small boy has
Jul 28, 2008 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, totally fascinating book! Takes place in Laos in the 1970s and it's my favorite genre - a mystery! The characters are rich, the protagonist is a coroner in his 70s - and I felt that I was given a surreptitious history in the Southeast Asia conflict at the same time. Beautifully written and wonderful pacing!
Rob Kitchin
The real strengths of Colin Cotterill’s Dr Siri series are the colourful set of characters, the light and witty prose, and a wonderfully rich sense of place and history. Through the narrative he engages with weighty matters such as nationalism, socialism and familial relationships, without them dominating the story in some overloaded ideological manner. They’re a delight to read. Anarchy and Old Dogs is the fourth book in the series. Whilst the plot was interesting, I felt that it unfolded in a ...more
Joyce Lagow
Jan 22, 2011 Joyce Lagow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

4th in the Dr. Siri Paiboun, national coroner of the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, series.

As if hosting a thousand year-old Hmong shaman isn’t bad enough, Dr. Siri has to contend with a transvestite fortune teller who has an uncanny knack of predicting the future (after reciting some fairly terrible poetry of her own--that’s the price he charges). But Dr. Siri himself gets hooked on Auntie Bpoo, to the point of almost being distracted by the death of a blind dentist; it looks like an acc
Jan 14, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth in the pathologist Dr Siri series set in newly communist Laos. I love the way Colin Cotterill just captures the right not of humour in his descriptions. He has a similar style to Alexander Mc Coll Smith who is a wonderful observer of people and you really feel you get to know all the charcters in his books.

We have Dr Siri who was hoping for a nice quiet retirement but the Communist Laos govt decided that he should be the government corona. He is supported in his role by a nurs
Jun 16, 2012 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writers of a series of mysteries have a terrific challenge. Maintaining plotting and character, developing depth without disappointing the faithful readership is a burden. I've been disappointed before: even the sainted Agatha Christie repeated her plots, Elizabeth George deteriorated as the Lynley series progressed, Donna Leon lost her way with her charming detective Brunetti (the books became polemics), and even the Camilleri's latest Montalbano offering isn't quite up to his usual excellence. ...more
Aug 17, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, laos

Dr. Siri Paiboun is a hearty 73 year old that is quite proud of having been an active force in the thirty-year struggle of the Pathet Lao in their efforts to throw off the yoke of colonialism. Sometimes when Siri is in doubt about certain aspects of his job he turns to the French expert Inspector Maigret. This is the case when he discovers a blank piece of paper in the pocket of a blind dentist who was hit by a bus. He remembers how Maigret used a formula of sodium bicarbonate to reveal hidden m
Susan Kosel
May 23, 2015 Susan Kosel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author has a great sense of humor.
Passages of note:
Chapter 'A Note to a Blind Dentist'
This tragedy was a talking point that afternoon but very few tears were shed for the anonymous blind man. The locals didn't have room in their soul for someone else's misfortune. Vientiane had a certain mood about it these days. The government was starting to look like a depressingly unloved relative who'd come to visit for the weekend and stayed for two years. These were uncomfortable times in a country not unused to discomfort. The drought ha
Klaus Kinski
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dr. Siri investigates the death of a blind dentist who was killed on his weekly walk to and from the post office to pick up a letter written in invisible ink. His search takes him and his old friend Civilai to the southern city of Pakse, which has long been a center of rebellious behavior. They are allowed to go under the condition that they investigate the possible murder of an official by the Russians. Meanwhile, Nurse Dtui and Officer Phosy investigate in their own way while Dr. Siri is absen ...more
Jul 04, 2011 Debra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another one in this series that I just loved. Our hero, Siri, and his supporting cast all get into a bunch of trouble, as usual. As always, there is the undercurrent of wry humor, disturbing politics, and murders and mysteries to solve. I can't say enough good things about this series. The books are easily read in one day... that's how long it took me to read this one, and I still had plenty of time to start another book! Now on to the next one!
Oct 22, 2014 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This series, of which I have three so far, of crime novels is extra ordinary. The location, Laos, together with Vietnam in the background, provide for unique and engrossing tales when placed in the hands of an extraordinary story teller. I came across this series by accident or via recommended reading list generated by the reading ap that connects to my local library. So I downloaded the ebooks and commenced to read these intelligent and unique stores that are filled with whimsy and humor . What ...more
Dani Yang
Jan 30, 2016 Dani Yang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Siri Paiboun series are a gem. Seriously. Being from Southeast Asia myself, these books somehow is a history lesson in itself on Communism and the beauty of the country that was. Seeing it from a different perspective of the love that Dr. Siri had for his country and his yearning for the change for the betterment of his people, has enlightened me on what Communism should be about.

Dr. Paiboun and his crew has once again been brought forth a few curious mysteries and through the unusual Sherl
Apr 01, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always, these are my favorite characters!

I finally found out how Dtui and Phosy got together. I also found out how Dr. Siri met Auntie Bpoo. Very interesting. Since I read the books out of order since the library only had 4 of them in hard copy and audio, I am putting it all together and enjoying every minute of it.

Some word play I chuckled about. "His (Dr. Siri) thoughts were interrupted by an agonizing scream from his friend (Phosy). While Phosy had been launching his frontal attack on the
Mar 10, 2014 Marfita rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
The simple hit-and-run of an elderly dentist turns into counter-revolutionary plotting. Dr. Siri and his longtime friend, Civilai, travel incognito (or at least Civilai does) to Pakse to see if they can trace the perpetrators of the counter-revolution before they throw the country into more turmoil.
Dtui poses as Inspector Phosy's wife in order to infiltrate a refugee camp in Thailand that they think is the headquarters. A village woman begs Dr. Siri to settle her mind about the drowning death o
John Lee
Dec 12, 2015 John Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 4th in the series about Dr Siri set in the early 1970s in Laos. I dont really know why I enjoy these books so much. They are set in a time and place that I know little about and the mystery that presents itself towards the beginning of each story , seems to take second place in importance to the life and times of this 73 year old National Pathologist of Laos.

It could be that the authors style of writing draws us into Dr Siri's world so well that we start to understand and sympathise with thi
Aug 26, 2014 Olivermagnus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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 Pho ...more
Genine Franklin-Clark

Another winner in this extraordinary series; oh, how I love this author and this series! The mix of Laotian Communist-late-seventies culture, the mysteries, the sly humor, the utterly charming characters and a bit of the supernatural continues to delight.
Dr. Siri is back. He travels to uncover one mystery, and along the way digs up more things to solve. Nurse Dtui has her own adventure mixed in, as they work to discover who is behind the plot to overthrow the current government.

I picked this book up because Dr. Siri is one of my favourite characters. He has a way of stating things the way they are which is unusual in a Communist state such as Laos was in the 1970s.

I finished the book to discover the solution to the mystery. While many things wee
Anirban Das
When a blind man gets hit by a truck in Vientiene, Dr. Siri, Laos’ only coroner gets involved. The body of the dentist reveals nothing except for a blank page, which turns out to be a note written in invisible ink. Intrigued Dr. Siri along with Inspector Phosy visits the house of the deceased dentist and finds a clue that sends Dr. Siri and Civilai to Pakse in the south, and Phosy and Nurse Dtui east into Thailand.

One of the prime reasons I read Dr. Siri mysteries is for the humor element. The p
Katrina Tan
I think the only one I did not enjoy, and did not complete...
Connie D
Feb 05, 2016 Connie D rated it really liked it
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 read
Rhonda Pickens
Oct 05, 2015 Rhonda Pickens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This series gets better and better with each book. Colin Cotterill has found his muse in 72 year old Dr. Siri Paiboun and the 1000 year old shaman whose spirit resides within him! Once I started reading, I couldn't stop! Not much else has happened around my house in the last ten days as every waking moment has been dedicated to these books. I knew I should slow down because otherwise I would get to the last one and feel that sense of loss, waiting for the next one to be published, but I couldn't ...more
This is the fourth book in the Dr Siri Paiboun series by Colin Cotterill. The series is set in Laos in the late 1970’s, not long after Laos has won it’s independence from France and became the communist, Lao People's Democratic Republic. Dr Siri Paiboun is 74, and the country’s only coroner. In this book Siri and his friend Civilai set out to find the killer of a blind dentist. Their travels take them out to the countryside. While there they become reacquainted with an old friend from their revo ...more
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Colin Cotterill was born in London and trained as a teacher and set off on a world tour that didn't ever come to an end. He worked as a Physical Education instructor in Israel, a primary school teacher in Australia, a counselor for educationally handicapped adults in the US, and a university lecturer in Japan. But the greater part of his latter years has been spent in Southeast Asia. Colin has tau ...more
More about Colin Cotterill...

Other Books in the Series

Dr. Siri Paiboun (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The Coroner's Lunch (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #1)
  • Thirty-Three Teeth (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #2)
  • Disco For The Departed (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #3)
  • Curse of the Pogo Stick (Dr. Siri Paiboun #5)
  • The Merry Misogynist (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #6)
  • Love Songs From A Shallow Grave (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #7)
  • Slash and Burn (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #8)
  • The Woman Who Wouldn't Die (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #9)
  • Six and a Half Deadly Sins (Dr. Siri Paiboun #10)
  • I Shot the Buddha

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“I’m left doing all the unskilled labor myself, which is exactly when you realize there’s nothing unskilled about labor.” 4 likes
“All right, here comes the philosophy. You can leave if you like but I suggest you stick it out. You don’t measure your own success against the size or volume of the effect you’re having. You gauge it from the difference you make to the subject you’re working on. Is leading an army that wins a war really that much more satisfying than teaching a four-year-old to ride a bicycle? At our age,” she said, “you go for the small things and you do them as well as you can.” In the back of the pony trap, squashed beside his two large boxes, Siri still felt Daeng’s lip prints on his cheek and heard her whisper, “Go for the small things and do them well.” It would be his new mantra. Forget the planet, save the garden.” 3 likes
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