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Slash and Burn

Cover of Slash and Burn

Slash and Burn

Dr. Siri Paiboun Series, Book 8
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Dr. Siri might finally be allowed to retire (again). Although he loves his two morgue assistants, he's tired of being Laos's national coroner, a job he never wanted in the first place. Plus, he's pushing eighty, and wants to spend some time with his wife before his untimely death (which has been predicted by the local transvestite fortune teller).

But retirement is not in the cards for Dr. Siri after all. He's dragged into one last job for the Lao government: supervising an excavation for the remains of U.S. fighter pilot who went down in the remote northern Lao jungle ten years earlier. The presence of American soldiers in Laos is a hot-button issue for both the Americans and the Lao involved, and the search party includes high-level politicians and scientists. But one member of the party is found dead, setting off a chain of accidents Dr. Siri suspects are not completely accidental. Everyone is trapped in a cabin in the jungle, and the bodies are starting to pile up. Can Dr. Siri get to the bottom of the MIA pilot's mysterious story before the fortune teller's prediction comes true?

From the Hardcover edition.

Dr. Siri might finally be allowed to retire (again). Although he loves his two morgue assistants, he's tired of being Laos's national coroner, a job he never wanted in the first place. Plus, he's pushing eighty, and wants to spend some time with his wife before his untimely death (which has been predicted by the local transvestite fortune teller).

But retirement is not in the cards for Dr. Siri after all. He's dragged into one last job for the Lao government: supervising an excavation for the remains of U.S. fighter pilot who went down in the remote northern Lao jungle ten years earlier. The presence of American soldiers in Laos is a hot-button issue for both the Americans and the Lao involved, and the search party includes high-level politicians and scientists. But one member of the party is found dead, setting off a chain of accidents Dr. Siri suspects are not completely accidental. Everyone is trapped in a cabin in the jungle, and the bodies are starting to pile up. Can Dr. Siri get to the bottom of the MIA pilot's mysterious story before the fortune teller's prediction comes true?

From the Hardcover edition.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    You know? Being shut up in a cage with a live bear was a piece
    of cake compared to being drunk and high in charge of half-amillion
    dollars' worth of flying metal. The full moon beckoned,
    hanging there like an ivory wok in a vast steel-gray sky. It spread
    the landscape with an eerie monochrome like daytime to a dog.
    Medium-gray jungle against dark-gray mountains. Patches of charcoal
    and slivers of silver off the rivers. Boyd could make out every
    leaf, every rock, as clear as creation day. He was a god. Oh, yeah.
    A deity on a mission. The almighty protagonist in the movies they
    made before they could afford colour: starring Boyd Bowry in his
    never-ending quest for . . . cheese.

    "Cheese, little buddy," he'd told Marcos. "I'll bring you back
    a hunk of moon cheese. They let you scoop it right out. You want
    fries or something with it?"

    "Man, you shouldn't leave me here with that," was all Marcos
    could come back with. Boyd remembered being at the door of
    the cage then. He'd stopped, looked back at the bear: drunk,
    snoring, farting, head in her feed trough.

    "She'll be cool, man. Fix her a cup of coffee in the morning.
    Tell her it was great. Leave your phone number."

    Marcos had done one of those non-military salutes. That's why
    that finger's so long, you know? Gets all the exercise. That was . . .
    what? An hour ago? Half an hour? Time lost all its credibility at
    ten thousand feet with no colour in the world. Someone oughta
    write a PhD about that. The relationship between . . . between hue
    and chronology. The colour of minutes. He'd heard Marcos yelling
    some Filipino double Dutch at him as he walked away. The little
    guy was mad. Smiled a lot, but. . . .

    No, wait. Marcos? That's not right. Marcos is the goddamned
    president. The guy's about to be eaten by a bear. The least I can
    do is remember his name. I've known him for. . . .

    OK, don't be distracted now.

    Focus.

    Cheese.

    Ignition and all that instrumental hoo-ha had been instinctive
    and that was just as well 'cause he couldn't recall doing any of it.
    He'd cranked her up, left the ground, and here he was heading
    off to the heavenly moon deli service. A Sikorsky was a hell of a
    lot safer than a Chevy in so many respects. Never drove a Sikorsky
    into a fire hydrant, for one. And if you did, the cops would never
    catch up with you, for two. And, what else? A Chevy never surfed
    moon rays like a Sikorsky H34.

    Oh, no.

    Oh, yeah.

    What a trip. What a goddamned trip. Just hanging in the gray,
    looking at the moon. It was cosmic. What happened to nights like
    this? What happened to love and harmony, man? No peace and
    quiet for those monkeys down there in the trees. For those big
    lizards on the rocks. "Sorry guys." At least he didn't have to listen
    to his own engine growl. He had his headphones connected direct
    to the cassette player. The Who: Brits, but complex, man. Percussion
    like the punch of anti-aircraft flak.

    And even though the music went straight into his brain and deadended
    there, he got it into his head that the words were being
    broadcast all over Nam to the east and Thailand in the west and
    some karmic interpretation service was sending the message to
    farmers in their bamboo beds. He shouted over the music, "You
    were deceived, brothers, but you can see what we've done, right?
    You've got the magic eyes? You know we'll get ours in some other
    life. You've got that damned right. What do we know?"

    And that was when it happened; the actual date and time when
    the sky fell on Chicken Little. There was a thump...

About the Author-
  • Colin Cotterill is the Dilys Award-winning author of nine books in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series: The Coroner's Lunch, Thirty-Three Teeth, Disco for the Departed, Anarchy and Old Dogs, Curse of the Pogo Stick, The Merry Misogynist, Love Songs from a Shallow Grave, and Slash & Burn, and The Woman Who Wouldn't Die. He lives in Chumphon, Thailand, with his wife and six deranged dogs.

Reviews-
  • Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

    "Outstanding ... deftly inserts humor into what could easily have been an unrelentingly grim plot line."

  • Kirkus "The most entertaining case for Siri (Love Songs from a Shallow Grave, 2010, etc.) in years."
  • Globe and Mail "Any crime fan who hasn't discovered the Dr. Siri books should start here and then work back. This is the eighth and best , and it's been far too long since book seven."
  • Booklist "Cotterill brings together all the elements that have made the stories so popular: a good mystery, plenty of humor, and a touch of the supernatural. A must for series fans."
  • Entertainment Weekly "Unpredictable.... Tragically funny and magically sublime."
  • Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review "A wonderfully fresh and exotic mystery. If Cotterill had done nothing more than treat us to Siri's views on the dramatic, even comic crises that mark periods of government upheaval, his debut mystery would still be fascinating. But the multiple cases spread out on Siri's examining table are not cozy entertainments but substantial crimes that take us into the thick of political intrigue."
  • New York Post "You get a real feeling for what Laos was like in the '70s. The humor is wonderful, too."
  • Denver Post "The sights, smells and colors of Laos practically jump off the pages of this inspired, often wryly witty first novel."
  • Philadelphia Inquirer "A fresh and innovative detective who goes straight to the heart and soul, without any sappty sentiment. THe author gives us exotic locations; a world that few us know well; crisp, intelligent, and often-witty writing; and most of all a hero unlike any other."
  • Washington Post Book World "A crack storyteller and an impressive guide to a little-known culture."
  • Washington Times "This is the seventh and most sardonic of Mr. Cotterill's Dr. Siri series, and it is not easy to cope with the combination of misery and merry melancholy that he employs. His writing, as always, is skillful and smooth and his plot is artfully strung together. The book fascinates as it chills."
  • Boston Globe "This wonderful series has consistently managed to convey the beauty and sadness of this damaged country through the wisdom and humor of its protagonist."
  • Toronto Globe and Mail "I love this elegantly written series, set in Laos with clever, septuagenarian coroner Dr. Siri. This one, the seventh, is the best, but all of them are terrific.... A delightful mix of history and politics, and an excellent mystery."
  • The Oregonian "It's a rare treat to say that a book placed so far into a series is the best one. Authors more often than not run out of steam by the seventh book. Not Colin Cotterill."
  • Seattle Times "Colorful."
Title Information+
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    Soho Press
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