Cover Image: The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot

The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot

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Member Reviews

Thank you Soho Press and NetGalley for the advance digital copy of this book.

This was a really strange book that followed the life of a Japanese soldier stationed in Laos.  The author does a good job of tying together all of the information at the end of the book, although I found myself wondering where all of this was going more than once throughout the book.
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I enjoyed the first half of this book a great deal, but then about halfway through I lost the thread of the plot. I didn't understand why the protagonists kept pursuing this dead Japanese man and so I finally had to give up.
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This is the last book in Cotterill's Dr. Siri series set in the early days of Communist Laos. It is always sad to see a favorite series come to a halt, but I am very pleased Cotterill wound this up before it became tired and tedious, written simply to fulfill a contract. The entire series is well worth the time spent reading it for both its historical and cultural insights into a particular time and place.
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First book by this author for me a great discovery.The book drew me in a quirky read a mystery a book full of laugh out loud moments,So excited that there are so many books by him to catch up on.Will be recommending.#netgalley#sohopress
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I'm late to the party, as this is my first book by this prolific author. I will be circling back to start from book 1 because Cotterill writes well, includes all the elements of a good mystery, including a good conundrum and some humor. Good stuff.

I really appreciate the review copy!!
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The Dr. Siri books are wonderfully amusing and clever with fascinating characters, and one of my favorite series! In this book, Dr. Siri receives a book in the mail which appears to be the diary of a Japanese man beginning in 1937. It comes with a note that "we need your help". It's written in Japanese, so Dr. Siri can't read the early parts. However, on 12/30 1940, it changes to Lao, and we are introduced to Toshimado, known as Toshi. He gradually gets used to the language, and the writing becomes more interesting and clearer. Toshi appears to be an ex pilot for the Japanese airforce at the beginning of the war. By the beginning of 1941, he was in Laos in charge of a "salvage" group in Thakhek.

Meanwhile, a dead Vietnamese man found on the rocks in Vang Vieng, is in the morgue. The hair on his head and mustache is still growing as are his fingernails. He has lots of broken bones consistent with falling onto rocks from a cliff. Phosy sends a man to Vang Vieng to try to find the woman he had been seen with. When the man doesn't return, Phosy goes to Vang Vieng with another man. They soon find themselves chained to a wall with the officer previously sent out. They finally manage to grab the innkeeper feeding them and when they tell him they don't believe his daughter killed the man, he agrees to let them out. The daughter comes and tells how the man was picked up by an eagle and then dropped!

Dr. Siri and his wife Deung use blackmail to get a ride in a helicopter to Thakhek with the UN Commissioner for refugees along with a few refugees. Two of the refugees are young girls who don't talk and supposedly are being returned to their home village. Deung goes with them on their return and quickly figures out this is NOT their village. On the pretense of using the privy, she gets away from the male guards and manages to convince some of the women to allow them to take the girls back. Meanwhile, Dr. Siri is gradually finding out more about the diary writer, and with the help of a local man, Beer, they visit places where Toshi has gone and find a Japanese translator.
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I was dismayed when I learned that The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot is the last Dr. Siri Paiboun mystery. I love these books, not just for their mysteries, but for the characters, the knowledge I've gained, and their irreverent sense of humor. I do have to be realistic, however. Dr. Siri is in his eighties-- how much longer could we expect him to investigate mysteries?

In this last installment, Inspector Phosy has his own mystery to solve, while their daughter Malee seems to have tied down his wife, Dtui. Another favorite, Mr. Geung, makes an appearance that spotlights one of my favorite things about this series: its respect for all human beings. Geung: "I have ... Down syndrome." Siri: "So? That doesn't make you an idiot." And as all fans of this series know, Geung is not an idiot. Madame Daeng also has time to solve a mystery while Siri works with that diary.

As I followed along with Siri and Daeng, trying my best to figure out what was going on before they did, I enjoyed so many things. The way these two, who have no money, can still afford to travel. The way Cotterill brings 1981 Laos to life for me. (11,000  out of 14,000 motor vehicles in the country had no access to gasoline for instance.) And last but not least, Cotterill's fantastic sense of humor, which can be seen in phrases and sentences like "I hear she has the temper of a rabid Chihuahua" or "...the food was spicy enough to strip the paint off a tank" or even Siri refusing to cooperate with the bad guys by telling them he's suffering from "terminal horripilation".

The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot is a fitting end to this series, but oh, am I going to miss these characters! However, as long as Cotterill keeps on writing, all is not lost.
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I have read all other books by Cotterill, and again I was not disappointed! Lovely main characters who have made me often laugh and  smile. The plot is complex and keeps you guessing as well as revels in many twists and turns. 
Thank you Colin and NetGalley for letting me read this story for free.
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I found the plot too complicated and I got lost throughout the story ! It is beautifully written though and I enjoyed the atmosphere which is totally different from the thrillers I usually read !
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Quirky, unique, at times self deprecating series. Character development builds across the series. Laugh out loud funny. I enjoy the cultural and historical perspective.  I would love to have a bowl of noodles at Madame Deng's Thank you
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This interesting look at the WWII history of Laos was engaging, but for the last Siri Paiboun book, I expected more. The amusing capers and quips that make the books so entertaining are missing from this book. Daeng as “helpless old lady” isn’t very surprising any more. What also took away from my enjoyment of the book is just how many plot twists and turns there were. I couldn’t really follow all the complicated pieces of the plot.
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The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot is being billed as "the last Dr. Siri Mystery." If you aren't familiar with the series that may not mean much to you—but, believe me, the last Dr. Siri is a big deal. Dr. Siri is the retired coroner for Laos, a true believer in socialism, who sees post-war events in his country with a perspective both jaded and hopeful. He also unwillingly travels between our world and the spirit realm,using enigmatic advice from his spiritual guide, a no-longer-living cross-dressing writer of bad verse. All the key characters in this series have similarly unexpected back stories—and all of them have the kind of decency and creativity that leave readers rooting for them.

This series can be read in or out of sequence, but once you start, you'll want to keep going. And you'll be glad there are 15 Dr.Siri mysteries, but sad that apparently there sill be no more.

I received a free electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. The opinions are my own.
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I have been a big fan of the Dr. Siri Paiboun series since the beginning. While I am saddened to see the series come to an end with this 15th installment. If you haven't tried him you should.
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There comes a time in the life of every series for it to end - and it's best if the writer ends on a strong note, not fading quality.  Cotterill does exactly that in this last of his Dr. Siri mysteries.  As always, the characters were delightful, the setting fascinating and the intertwining mysteries were intriguing.  My only complaint is that there will be no more of Dr. Siri; I hope we do still have more books by Cotterill.  Review based on an ARC through NetGalley.
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Dr. Siri and Madam Dang seek a treasure with a diary as their only clue.  As usual, and more than once, the elderly pair find themselves in dire circumstances with only their wits and skill as freedom fighters to carry them through.  Cotterill is a master at blending cultural insights, quirky characters, and slapstick antics with the bleak history of war and its aftermath.  The tightly-plotted mystery is slowly revealed in satisfying, delicious layers.  Hilarious, beautiful, and sobering in equal measure.
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