The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot (Dr. Siri Paiboun #15) by Colin Cotterill

‘As is often the case, a strong-enough yearning was just enough to tweak fate into action.’

Laos, 1981.  Dr Siri’s boredom is about to be relieved.  Which is just as well, given that he has retired as a coroner and now his dream to be a film producer has been thwarted.  How fortunate, then, that the unofficial mailman makes a delivery of a strange old diary, with a note: ‘Dr Siri, we need your help most urgently’.  But who has sent the diary, and why?  There is no return address.  Half of the diary is written in Lao, the other half is in Japanese.  Dr Siri thinks, given the date, the diary was written during World War II.

And so begins Dr Siri’s investigation.  The diary seems awfully dull for something apparently written by a kamikaze pilot, but Dr Siri is intrigued.  He marshals his forces, calls in some favours and then he and Madame Daeng set off.

‘Ah, you know me, Siri,’ said Daeng, ‘Always up for a wasted day on the trail of someone unimportant.’

Meanwhile, Inspector Phosy has a mystery of his own to solve and Mr Geung has the noodle shop to manage.  Madame Daeng finds a mystery to solve as well, and all the various pieces seem to be coming together quite well.  Dr Siri even finds himself visiting (albeit briefly) an old friend:

‘Being a coroner would be of no value at all in limbo.  Knowing how you died is of no use whatsoever once you’ve gone.’

Mysteries solved and the story is concluding.  This is the last of the Dr Siri series, and I am torn between wanting to know how it will end and not wanting it to end.  I have enjoyed this series.  So long Dr Siri, and thanks for the journey.

It is not necessary to read the fifteen books in order (but it is more fun).

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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