Saturday, June 6, 2020

"The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot"

Colin Cotterill, author of the Dr. Siri Paiboun series, lives in Chumphon, Thailand, with his wife. His books have been Book Sense Picks, and he won the Dilys Award for Thirty-Three Teeth as well as a Crime Writers’ Association Library Dagger.

Cotterill applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot, and reported the following:
Page 69:
…better than for them to be lined up and shot by the wicked commies. Good anti-regime propaganda. Guilt by the bucketload for those who fled successfully. Massive donations to the cause. Nice homes in the Midwest for retired royalist generals. So, Mr. Roper takes photos and videos of the happy reunions, teary-eyed relatives, thankful, not-assassinated returnees, and he announces that he or other UN officials will come by every three months to monitor the situation. He makes sure the local cadre hears that, takes his photo too just to confirm he gets the idea, and there’s the safety package, living proof that repatriation works. Word gets around in the refugee camps and every-one decides to go home.” His voice was croaking from all that shouting so they gave up and enjoyed the scenery. There’d be plenty of time to talk when they landed. Daeng smiled at the girls, who looked away, embarrassed or afraid. Daeng could not imagine what they’d been through. While they were all together, she was determined to make friends with them and learn something about them.


The river has become my companion. In the rainy season, once a body of water had built up on its way from China, it was a ferocious ally, thundering past impatiently, too busy to stop and chat. But in the dry season it is a trickle that seems not to be moving at all. Now it’s a lake of smoked glass with sand mounds here and there spelling out some kind of Morse code. I was at the boat port one day to receive a shipment of toys and sweets I’d ordered for children’s day.
Unlike its predecessors, my last participation in the 69 test doesn’t give a lot away as far as the main plot is concerned. It does give a hint as to the UN’s role in the region and it introduces the diary style of the title character. But what I most liked about this excerpt is that it pays homage to one unsung heroine of the series. The Mekong River has played center-stage in all of the dramas just as it dominates the landscape along the border of Laos. I should have dedicated at least one of the books to the omnipresent matriarch who has given so much of herself to make this series the success it has been. Kop Jai Deu (With thanks.)
Learn more about the book and author at Colin Cotterill's website.

--Marshal Zeringue