Today marks the publication date of Colin Cotterill’s Don’t Eat Me, the seventeenth book in the Dr. Siri series!
This darkly humorous book follows the 75-year-old Dr. Siri in his attempt to direct his first feature film – but there’s a hitch. He’s also trying to solve the mystery of the woman’s skeleton that has turned up under the Anusawari Arch in the middle of the night.
The action takes place in Laos, and since many of the characters continuously run up against hard walls, we thought it would be prudent to share some helpful tips, some hard-won wisdom that might just save your neck the next time you’re there.
1. DON’T smuggle anything across the Mekhong River—you might get shot.
“Between them was . . . a mysterious large object wrapped in a nylon parachute . . . roughly the size and shape of a grenade launcher and would certainly have led to the old boys’ being shot on sight if they were discovered. Smuggling weapons of war was not a wise pastime for men in their seventies.”
2. DON’T spend too much time by the Anusawari Arch, or else you might find a dead body.
“‘It’s quite recent in fact. There are many parts still attached . . . Ligaments, tendons, hair. The ligaments are holding a lot of the skeleton together . . . One of the night patrols noticed it when they were passing. All they saw was the skeleton propped up against a wall.’”
3. DON’T live in the city—it’s easier to survive in the countryside when your salary isn’t paid.
“With the markets almost empty and salaries unpaid for three months, the officers in Dormitory 3 and their families had to live on non-perishable stick and vegetables they grew themselves. Those with nets caught fish. Those with slingshots knocked shrews from the trees. Poor people off in the countryside ate better than city dwellers.”
4. DON’T try to bribe your favorite noodle shop in order to skip the line. It won’t work!
“Even the drivers of the black Zil limousines used by the senior Party members had to wait their turn to be served. Their bosses thought they might add a few extra kip as an incentive to jump the queue, but Madam Daeng would have nothing of it. Comrade Civilai often said that hers was the only example of functioning Communism in the republic. She replied that there was nothing political about it. She was just being fair.”
5. DON’T test the boundaries of a drunk Party official.
“‘There was a lot of vodka, and all of the Party uncles arrived back at their limos a bit worse for the wear. Could hardly walk some of them . . . We have a genial enough relationship with the bosses, but some of them, when they get a few drinks inside, they can get a bit stroppy if you know what I mean. You do your best to talk them out of suicidal activities but it’s not worth losing your job over.’”
6. DON’T cross your boss.
“Zil drivers were, through necessity, faithful to their bosses. There was no end to the secrets they were sworn to keep. Breaking that trust would inevitably result in the termination of a comfortable job and a trip to a re-education camp.”
7. DON’T try to sleep on any benches.
“‘Benches aren’t wide enough,’ he said. ‘I’m a sleep roller. Kept falling off. So, I moved to the ground floor. Can’t fall off the ground, can you?’”
8. DON’T stick your nose into any suspicious large crates.
“There was no sound or movement from inside the crates, but Siri could sense life . . . and death . . . The stench of disinfectant and repellent was overwhelming. But more natural scents reached out from the crates. It wasn’t just the odor of bodily functions and rotting flesh; once it has submitted to fatality a body gives off a sense of defeat. That’s what he could smell.”
9. DON’T be afraid to have a drink.
“‘We’re seventy-five, brother,’ he said. ‘If drinking has shortened our lives by even twenty-five percent thus far, that means we’d have lived to a hundred apiece. And how many fun-loving centenarians have you met recently? They’re all withered and immobile. We’re doing a service to our bodies by shortening our lives.’”
10. DON’T mess with Madam Daeng.
“‘After a day like today, allow me,’ said Daeng. She took off her pinafore, mussed her hair, armed herself with the number five carving knife and headed for the street.”
“Dr. Siri is the most wonderfully human of heroes.” – Christian Science Monitor