Slash And Burn - Colin Cotterill “A good communist is like a tree. He stands firm but knows how to bend in a strong wind. He is fertile but gladly gives up his nuts to less fortunate creatures”

Slash and Burn, the eighth installment of the Dr.Siri mysteries, starts off when an American delegation led by Major Potter visits Laos, starting a joint operation to search for an American helicopter pilot who was lost during the war. Although presumed dead, a photograph delivered to the pilot’s dad, an American senator showed that he was still alive. Dr.Siri is asked to join the expedition. Then as a member of the team dies under unnatural circumstances, Dr.Siri smells foul and starts to investigate his death.

This was my first Colin Cotterill book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Very few writers have the talent of combing crime writing with humor i.e. write a crime novel which would not only be a page turner but would also make the reader laugh. The only name that comes to mind is that of the late John Mortimer, who along with his legendary creation Horace Rumpole created the same potent mixture of crime and humor, just as Cotterill did with his Dr.Siri mysteries.

Dr.Siri is one of a kind. He is an old pathologist who is fighting for his retirement. He is also an amateur sleuth in a Communist country, who doesn’t gives a damn about what the politburo might think about his comments towards Communism. Matching his wit for their own, is his wife Madam Geung, the noodle shop owner, and his friend Civlai, an ex-politburo member and Auntie Bpoo a transgender and a cross dresser, who also is an amateur poet. The plot without being anything extraordinary was twisted, and it also incorporated the events of the helicopter crash in a foolproof manner. The amount of blood and gore was low, rather nil, and the pace was sedate.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to every crime fiction reader. Because I realized after finishing, that if you haven’t encountered Dr.Siri, your Crime Fiction experience isn’t complete.