Six and a Half Deadly Sins (Dr. Siri Mysteries Book 10)


Colin Cotterill

Laos, 1979: Dr. Siri Paiboun, the twice retired ex-National Coroner of Laos, receives an unmarked package in the mail. Inside is a handwoven pha sin, a colorful traditional skirt worn in northern Laos. A lovely present, but who sent it to him, and why? And, more importantly, why is there a severed human finger stitched into the sin’s lining?

Siri is convinced someone is trying to send him a message and won’t let the matter rest until he’s figured it out. He finagles a trip up north to the province where the sin was made, not realizing he is embarking on a deadly scavenger hunt. Meanwhile, the northern Lao border is about to erupt into violence—and Dr. Siri and his entourage are walking right into the heart of the conflict.

Reviews:Happy Reader on Amazon wrote:

4.0 out of 5 stars Love Dr. Siri's World and Companions, This is Not the Best of His Books

January 1979 and Vietnam has invaded Cambodia. As China supported Pol Pot, it shows its displeasure by a gathering of the troops to invade Viet Nam. Maybe even it would tramp through the northeast corner of Laos to get there.

Normally, such news wouldn't disturb Dr. Siri Paiboun, 74 years old and retired from being the last coroner in Laos. But he received a very strange package down in Vientiane. It is a traditionally woven pha sin, a skirt, with the added touch of a severed finger sewn into the hem. As each traditional weaver has her own style, Siri finds out that the pha sin was woven in the north. So he decides to head north – as soon as he can blackmail a judge into giving him the travel authorization. He takes his lovely and highly competent wife, Madame Daeng, with him. After all, a mad bureaucrat burned down her noodle shop (see previous book) so she temporarily has time on her hands.

From there everything gets complicated and dangerous, not just for Siri but for pretty much everyone he loves. That's what happens when your curiosities gets your cats.

"Six and a Half Deadly Sins" is the 11th in Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri Paiboun series. I have them all, and usually they are 5-star books for me. I love quirky characters and impossible situations, as well as the mysteries that take me to another place and, in this case, another time. This book is still good, but it is wandering and lots of action takes place without our hero. It isn't a bad book, by any means, but not as entertaining as many other in the series. If you haven't read any in the series, yet, I highly recommend starting with the first one, The Coroner's Lunch (A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery) , which is one of my favorite mysteries.

Cotterill is English, but he lived in Laos for 4 years working for UNESCO and has called Thailand home for many years. He has a humorous website, ColinCotterill(dot)com. In 2011, he started a 2nd mystery series, starring aspiring Thai journalist Jimm Juree. In his website's description of her first book, "Killed at the Whim of a Hat", he tells why he decided to branch out from Dr. Siri, "Although Dr. Siri will always have a place in our hearts, believe it or not, there are people who are turned off by ghosts & politics & 73 year-old protagonists."

I am not one of those people, because I love the comic menagerie of Dr. Siri's world, as well as his scattershot philosophising and Don Quixote inclinations.

Debra on Goodreads wrote:

Clever title. You'll see once you read the book. Another fine mystery and adventures for Dr. Siri and his friends. I just love the humor and slice-of-life way of living in Laos. This series is one of my favorites

Peter Lewis on The Christian Science Monitor wrote:

"Mr. Geung is another assistant and a gentleman with a mild case of Down’s syndrome, some modestly faulty neural wiring, but possessing a memory like a bear trap (since he worked in the morgue before Siri’s arrival, he is invaluable). He’s got the wits to be Siri’s conscience when Siri’s cynicism gets the better of him – “You were very very very bad. She isn’t ... she isn’t ...s he isn’t a bubblehead. She’s a nice girl....You made her sad.” “Geung, from his other dimension, could recognize the abnormal when he saw it.” Geung may know Siri’s secret, but he isn’t letting on."

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