cover image The Rat Catchers’ Olympics

The Rat Catchers’ Olympics

Colin Cotterill. Soho Crime, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61695-825-1

In Cotterill’s delightful 12th whodunit starring Dr. Siri Paiboun (after 2016’s I Shot the Buddha), Siri manages to become the medical officer for the 1980 Lao Olympic team, led by his best friend, Comrade Civilai. Of course, Siri’s wife, Madame Daeng, has to go, too. An old acquaintance of Civilai’s, Major Lien, is on the Lao shooting team, but Lien disappears between the photo-taking session at Vientiane’s Wattay Airport and the plane carrying the team to Moscow. Siri, Daeng, and Civilai wonder whether the person with a false name who replaces Lien on the team might be an assassin, and, if so, who in Moscow might be his target. Cotterill does a fine job of capturing the spectacle of the Olympic village and games along with the way that the Lao team enthusiastically participates despite being destined to lose every event. He performs marvelous narrative tricks, using red herrings, tangents of all sorts, and a surprise, bonus murder to keep readers guessing. A competition between rat catchers from Laos, Botswana, and Moscow is a highlight. This quirky mystery has heart and humor in equal measure. (Aug.)