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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 March 2008
All of Cotterhill's adventures featuring Laos' national (and only) coroner, Dr. Siri Paiboun, are extremely enjoyable, but this fourth one might be the best so far. It's 1977, and the Pathet Lao are still struggling mightily to make the transition from jungle insurgents to ruling government. The previous three books all worked a bit of Laos' history into the stories, but here politics and history really propel the plot, and it works wonderfully.

The seemingly everyday death of a blind man who steps in the path of a truck with failed brakes leads Dr. Siri and his redoubtable assistants into the heart of a royalist plot to overthrow the wobbly new communist government. Throughout the series we've see Dr. Siri lamenting the haplessness of the regime he fought to bring to power. However, he did spend thirty years in the jungle with the Pathet Lao, losing his wife, and forsaking hope for a family -- so he'll be damned if he's going to let his former comrades become usurped so quickly. But proof of the plot is elusive, and as in his other adventures, Dr. Siri is forced to travel to unravel matters. This time he heads to the crumbling city of Pakse with his old politburo pal and lunch companion Civilai. Meanwhile, the delightful Nurse Dtui and the honorable cop Phosy head to a very different place to poke around on their own.

Slowly but surely, Dr. Siri & Co. find their way to the heart of the conspiracy, with some rather unexpected results. Despite the appearance of a transvestite fortune-teller, the story is a little more sedate than others in the series -- the supernatural elements that play a large role in previous books are much more subdued here. Instead, the sad realities of realpolitik drive the plot. Events end on a note of great hope and happiness, whetting the appetite for the next entry in a great series.
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2007
In the fourth installment of this wonderful series, our intrepid, ghost seeing, haunted doctor has to deal with some real life political problems and has to make some difficult choices. It has all the humour we've come to expect and some delicious Lao food. If you're new to this series then please start with the first one, since there is some chronology. If you like mysteries set in languid exotic locales, at a time which is now gone, this is the book for you.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 December 2012
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 apparently drowned, but his body looks unusual. It is up to Siri, and his friends, to resolve these issues.

Anarchy and Old Dogs draws you in from its very compelling opening and never once do you think of stopping. His descriptions are poetic and evocative..."The drought had wrung every last tear of moisture from the sad earth."

His characters are unique and charming. Dr. Siri, the 73-year-old coroner, imagines himself as Georges Simenon's protagonist Inspector Maigret--and is occasionally referred to by others as "Inspector Migraine"--yet when he solves a case in very short order "...he was still a little upset that he hadn't been given the opportunity to eliminate the suspects one by one through the magic of dactyloscopy." Accompanying him on this venture are this friend Civilai and the faithful Nurse Dtui.

One thing that makes this book particularly interesting is that there is very little of the supernatural element, which was part of the previous books. There are fascinating descriptions of Siri's dreams and the delightful character Auntie Bpoo, a transvestite fortune teller. Siri and Civilai, of whose background we finally learn, are much more introspective than in the past.

This is a more serious book dealing with a period of history about which I knew nothing. I very much appreciate that Cotterill doesn't leave his reader floundering but incorporated historic information into the story in a way that added to it, rather than distracted the reader from it.

Colin Cotterill is one of the delights of reading mysteries. The style of his writing charms me, as does his dialogue and philosophies "As our age...you go for the small things and do them as well as you can."

"Anarchy and Old Dogs" is right up there with "The Coroner's Lunch" in its quality. I highly recommend it, but do start at the beginning of the series.

ANARCHY AND OLD DOGS (Mys-Dr. Siri Paiboun-Laos-1977) - Ex
Cotterill, Colin - 4th in series
Soho Crime - ©2007
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on 8 May 2012
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 relatively straightforward manner, lacked some twists and turns, and the mystical elements used to good effect in the other stories was underplayed. There was also a sense that the book was doing a lot of work for the next book in the series, moving new characters and scenarios into place. As a result, it felt like a transition book, rather than having a fully rounded story of its own. For me, that meant it was an enjoyable read, but one that didn't quite fulfil its promise. Regardless, it and the whole Dr Siri series is well worth checking out
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'Anarchy and Old Dogs' details the fourth case of Dr Siri, Laos's increasingly exasperated coroner. Cotterill is now firmly in his groove, and this volume contiues the good work of his previous three novels.

Light in tone, witty, enchanting and filled with pathos, this series has become a firm favourite of mine. The books are perfect holiday reads, or welcome calling points, if you're unsure of what to read next. They are the literary equivalent of a comfortable pair of slippers. I've been a bit down lately and 'AAOD' proved the perfect tonic.

Cotterill's books are consistently entertaining and essential reading if you have been, or are going to visit Laos. The books capture perfectly the essence of this sleepy but beautiful nation. Forget Botswana, take your imagination to Laos.
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on 14 January 2016
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 nurse with a lot of character and a young man with Down's Syndrom who actually knows more about the pathologist department workings than either of the other two.

In this story Siri and his friends uncover a plot to overthrow the government and set about trying to get to the bottom of the plot. This involves a lot of espionage and the nurse and a policemen smuggling themselves into Thailand. Siri drinks a lot of Laos whisky with his government comrade while away from Vientiane incognito.

The story is interesting enough but for me what makes these books is the characters and the descriptions of their daily activities and the other odd folk they come into contact with.

It isn't essential but I think this book would be best read after the others as you get to know the people better and there are references to previous stories.
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This is book four in the Dr Siri series of books set in Laos.It isn't essential to start this series with book 1, but as the characters grow and develop through the series and past adventures are referenced, it is probably the best place to start.
One of the best things about these books is the real sense of place and the insight into Lao life and culture. For anyone who has visited Laos the books are a real treat as all the places mentioned exist exactly where the book places them, so you can follow Dr Sri as he travels around town solving the murders and getting into tight scrapes.
I love this series of books. These are a meatier read than the no1 Ladies Detective series, but in the same vein. Well rounded and amusing characters, but put into positions of real peril.
I suggest you start reading this series with "The Coroners Lunch", which sets the scene perfectly.
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on 23 June 2011
I've been following the series of Dr Siri tales, and this one really nailed it for me. The characters, and their strengths and flaws, really come through. And as always, Colin Cotterill manages to blend a detective novel with a spiritual overtone - a little like John Burdett in his 'Bangkok' books. Already ordered number five in the series, and hope the stories keep coming. I've spent a lot of time out in Laos having a son who lives and works out there, and it's been fascinating reading the seventies' history - the beginning of communism after the French were ousted - that Cotterill threads through his tales, which explain why and where Laos is currently at.
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on 26 August 2009
Dr Siri Paiboun, the reluctant national coroner of Laos, is a delightful character, not without an astringent side. Colin Cotterill writes well and has a great feeling for Laos and the period at the beginning of the Communist regime. Through Dr Paiboun, he draws attention to the absurdities and contradictions but does not stand in judgement. He's able to convey how a good man like Dr Paiboun can be critical of the regime and want it to have time to improve and mature. Anarchy and Old Dogs and the other books in this series are more than thrillers but they're still terrific stories.
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on 13 September 2009
For anyone who enjoys a good whodunnit has to read this book. It is written with such ease that you have ended the book long before you are happy to put it down.
Witty, exciting, packed with interesting historical and antropological titbits! You cannot but love Siri and his fantastical adventures in Laos. If you read The Coroner's Lunch (the first in the series) you will be hooked and you will soon be reading all the books in the series.
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