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Killed at the Whim of a Hat Paperback – May 22 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; Reprint edition (May 22 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250008301
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250008305
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #221,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER on Oct. 26 2012
Format: Paperback
Book 1 in the Jimm Juree series

This delightful first entry into a new series is set in southern Thailand and focuses on Jimm Juree, an eccentric 34 year old woman, who desperately wants to become a senior crime reporter. In a public oration course in college, Jimm has studied the speaking style of President George W. Bush and all through the mystery the author strategically quotes some of the President’s slips and gaffes to add a touch of humour to the story.

Jimms first big break comes at the start of the story when a van containing the skeletal remains of two hippies, one wearing a hat, is discovered buried in a local farmer’s field. While on the scene recording the events, a second scoop comes her way. She learns an abbot at a local monastery looking into the sexual activities of monks and nuns has been found stabbed to death. Jimm is an aggressive but careful investigative reporter driven by passion for her profession and eager to prove herself by taking on both cases. She realises this could make or break her career and if all goes well could thrust her into the limelight of national papers.

The highlight of the story is the playful narrative that explores the Thai sexual openness, the ethnic tensions and the devious politics. This novel is compassionate, funny and dark. What I liked the best is the author’s humour and his wacky characters. On a minor note, I found the strong characterisation had the tendency to override the plotting at times and the pacing bogged down and wandered a little too much for my liking. "Killed at the Whim of a Hat" is essentially an introduction to a new protagonist, her family and friends.

From what I see so far I can honestly say I am looking forward to the future development of this series. Things are definitely off to a good start for Jimm Juree.
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Format: Paperback
This is the first instalment in Colin Cotterill's new series about the `almost award-winning' female crime reporter Jimm Juree. The novel is set in southern Thailand.
Jimm and her relatives move from northern Thailand to the south to run the Gulf Bay Lovely Resort and Restaurant. There's Jimm, her mother Mair, her bodybuilding brother Arny and her Grandad Jah. Her sister, Sissi, who used to be her older brother Somkiet, stays in the north. Jimm isn't at all keen on living in the south, and when she hears of the discovery of a buried Volkswagen Kombi -complete with two skeletal passengers (one of whom is wearing a hat) - Jimm is off to the scene on a bicycle. Marching up to the police, she announces: `Officers, my name is Jimm Juree, deputy crime editor at the Chiang Mai Mail (I deliberately omitted tense) and I'm here to report on this case.'

One official invites her to lunch, which she accepts, and another, Lieutenant Chompu befriends her. `Lieutenant Chompu really was a policeman. You couldn't let those minute traces of nail polish fool you. He knew his job.'

Soon after, a monk is murdered in the nearby town of Lang Suan. Jimm's out of the way location, which she was convinced would see the end of her career as a crime writer, is suddenly a very busy place.

Each chapter features a George W Bush malapropism, and some way into the story we learn that Jimm undertook a course at University called `Public Oration and Oral Improvisation' (Pooi for short), and studied the speaking style of President George W Bush. One particular malapropism becomes relevant to the story:

`Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts TOP 100 REVIEWER on July 10 2011
Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: Old Mel hired one of Da's nephews'the slow-witted one with the dent in his forehead'to sink a well in his back acre.

Jimm Juree is a crime reporter with aspirations for greatness until her mother announces the family is moving to rural Southern Thailand and she fears her reporting days are over. Not when a 1972 VW camper is found buried with the driver and passenger still in place and no apparent cause of death immediately evident. Additionally, a Buddhist monk, inexplicably wearing an orange hat, is brutally murdered. Life in the south isn't nearly as dull as Jimm feared it would be.

The first book in a new series by Cotterill greets you with a fascinating and effective opening which catches you off-guard when it changes gears. The author's trademark wry humor is very much in evidence''Shot four times in the face over a period of twenty minutes? Don't rule out suicide.'''Like Scotch whiskies, bougainvilleas were at their happiest without water.' Cotterill has such a wonderful way with language'wonderful similes--one finds oneself going back and re-reading passages; not due to lack of understanding, but for the pure pleasure of re-reading the line or contemplating the concept created by it.

His very visual use of language makes every sentence a pleasure to read. For that, however, there is a surprising lack of sense of place. It all felt quite Westernized and, what description was provided, would not inspire one to want to visit there.

Jimm and her family may take awhile for one to warm to, but there are layers there not apparent at first glance. They are not, by any means, your average family, but they are well developed and sincere on their own and in their relationship to each other.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 86 reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Thai fun - with thanks to George W. Bush June 12 2011
By Blue in Washington - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The very witty and original mystery writer, Colin Cotterill, has changed literary geography slightly and time period significantly with his new book, "Killed at the Whim of a Hat". His great Dr. Suri series is set in post-civil war Laos (1970s); his new book (to become a series?) is based in contemporary southern Thailand. The new context has an interesting new protagonist--a very hip, sometime crime reporter, Jimm Juree--who comes accompanied by a family and growing group of friends and animals who run the gamut of extremes from a transexual brother/sister with shady Internet businesses, to a second brother with few social skills but a devotion to bodybuilding that has made him a contender for the Thai version of Mr. Universe, to a pre-Alzheimers mother who has more irons in the fire than a blacksmith at a rodeo, and to an ex-traffic cop grandfather with the morals of a nun and a cynicism about human kind that would put him in the same league with Lady Gaga.

"Killed..." opens with a forced move of the family from northern Thailand to the deep south of country--a provincial area that it is well removed from the popular Thai beach resorts of the region and therefore not a great place to own the tourist camp that the family matriarch has invested in. A page or two later, and a double killing of considerable vintage turns up on Jimm Juree's beach doorstep. A 1970s VW Kombi camper with two 1970s hippie skeletons has been uncovered by a well-digger closeby, and the bored-to-death Jimm is off to the races. Soon after, a second killing occurs in the otherwise moribund neighborhood. This time it's a Buddhist Abbott who has been stabbed to death for no apparent reason. Jimm adds the murder to her plate and begins turning over rocks and severely disturbing the local establishment types who aren't really looking for answers to old or new crimes.

Author Cotterill gets high marks for his new collection of very over-the-top characters. As strange as this bunch is, there's a certain plausibility to their relationships and protagonist Jimm Juree comes across as a thoroughly likable and entertaining lead from the first few pages of the book. The story line is interesting enough, but the resolutions to the murders push the envelope a bit far maybe.

George W. Bush? Well, he is thrown in as a kind of conceit by the author who you would have to conclude, was not a great fan of Dubya. Quotes from the former prez provide the title of the book (really), introduce each chapter, and eventually the reader finds out what their relevance is to the story. It will be a distraction for some and heartburn for others, but it does add to the whole black comedy effect that comes through here.

A good read, full of razor sharp, but playful humor throughout.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A delightful surprise - wonderful start to a new series! June 15 2011
By Angela Reads - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I wasn't sure if I would like this book, but it was such a delightful surprise! This novel is the first in a new mystery series set in Southern Thailand. Even though it takes place in modern day, you won't find a lot of graphic violence or sex, which I always appreciate.

Jimm Juree is a female crime reporter whose blossoming career is put on hold when her mother sells their place and buys a run down hotel in the south of Thailand - far away from civilization. But when buried skeletons are found nearby and a monk is brutally murdered, Jimm has a purpose again. She attempts to track down the murderer(s) with the help of her lovably crazy family and one eccentric policeman.

The title of the book, and a quote at the beginning of each chapter, are taken from the words of George W. Bush. The reader doesn't understand why at first, but everything is this book is revealed in layers until all is clear. Some GWB supporters were offended by this, but I thought it was handled in a fair way.

Many have compared this to the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books. I haven't read those books, so I can't give my opinion on that. I think if you took Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, mixed it with Louise Penny's Three Pines series, and put everyone down in southern Thailand, you might end up with something like this. There is a lot of humor here - lots of dry sarcastic wit from Jimm as the narrator. Too much snark would have turned me off, but I soon realized she has a big heart and isn't as tough as she seems. The characters here are very unique and memorable - but they also come across as real, not just caricatures. The plot has depth and the mystery is complex. Clues are revealed gradually to hold interest until the end.

I will definitely be reading the next book in this series. I want to 'see' these people again. Highly recommended.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
`People who connect the past and the future may know the present.' Oct. 10 2011
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the first instalment in Colin Cotterill's new series about the `almost award-winning' female crime reporter Jimm Juree. The novel is set in southern Thailand.
Jimm and her relatives move from northern Thailand to the south to run the Gulf Bay Lovely Resort and Restaurant. There's Jimm, her mother Mair, her bodybuilding brother Arny and her Grandad Jah. Her sister, Sissi, who used to be her older brother Somkiet, stays in the north. Jimm isn't at all keen on living in the south, and when she hears of the discovery of a buried Volkswagen Kombi -complete with two skeletal passengers (one of whom is wearing a hat) - Jimm is off to the scene on a bicycle. Marching up to the police, she announces: `Officers, my name is Jimm Juree, deputy crime editor at the Chiang Mai Mail (I deliberately omitted tense) and I'm here to report on this case.'

One official invites her to lunch, which she accepts, and another, Lieutenant Chompu befriends her. `Lieutenant Chompu really was a policeman. You couldn't let those minute traces of nail polish fool you. He knew his job.'

Soon after, a monk is murdered in the nearby town of Lang Suan. Jimm's out of the way location, which she was convinced would see the end of her career as a crime writer, is suddenly a very busy place.

Each chapter features a George W Bush malapropism, and some way into the story we learn that Jimm undertook a course at University called `Public Oration and Oral Improvisation' (Pooi for short), and studied the speaking style of President George W Bush. One particular malapropism becomes relevant to the story:

`Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat.' (George W Bush 17/9/2004)

Because there is so much information contained in the opening chapters of the novel, it takes a little while for the story to progress. But progress it does, with the kind of wit that will be familiar to those of us who enjoyed the Dr Siri series. There are a number of twists and turns, and hats are important.
Jimm is an interesting character, and her family is full of surprises. So is the local police force. Between them, they manage to solve one mystery and work out the most likely explanation for the other.

I'm looking forward to the next book in this series. Jimm Juree isn't Dr Siri, and Thailand as depicted by Mr Cotterill is largely free from the political undertones of the stories set in Laos. But that's okay: change can be good. Additionally, there's another Dr Siri novel due shortly.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Now I have two Colin Cotterill series to enjoy! July 19 2011
By Cathy G. Cole - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
First Line: Old Mel hired one of Da's nephews-- the slow-witted one with the dent in his forehead-- to sink a well in his back acre.

Young Jimm Juree has the life she wants as a crime reporter for the Chiang Mai Daily Mail, but when her mother suddenly sells the family business, familial obligation means that Jimm follows her mother, grandfather and brother to rural southern Thailand to run a decrepit resort on the coast. How in the world is she ever going to become the first female senior crime reporter in the Chiang Mai Daily Mail's history when she lives all the way out in the sticks?

Running the resort takes up a good portion of her day. Let's face it: she's not getting much help from her family. Her mother, who's showing signs of dementia, spends most of her time either restacking cans in the small giftshop or taking in stray dogs. Her grandfather, a retired traffic cop, scarcely says a word and disappears for long periods of time. Jimm's brother's life revolves around body-building and trying to find a decent gym out in the back of beyond. Only Sissi, Jimm's transgendered, former beauty pageant queen, computer hacker, former older brother had the good sense to stay in the city.

It's only when a van containing the skeletal remains of two hippies is unearthed in a local farmer's field that Jimm knows this is her chance to get back to the city and the life she wants. Then when an abbot at a nearby Buddhist temple is murdered, Jimm knows she's got to solve both crimes.

I love Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri mystery series, which is set in 1970s Laos and features a spry and wily septuagenarian national coroner and a marvelous cast of secondary characters. When I learned that this book was the start of a contemporary series set in Thailand, I thought that Christmas had come early. I still do.

I've read other books set in Thailand. John Burdett's series features a Thai policeman with rather traditional cultural beliefs and values. Timothy Hallinan's Poke Rafferty series has an Anglo writer who's fallen in love with the Thai culture and wants to become a part of it. In Cotterill's book, we get to see Thailand from yet another perspective: that of a young, thoroughly Westernized Thai woman. Each series gives readers a different view of a fascinating country.

Both the crimes in Killed at the Whim of a Hat are puzzlers. Cotterill undoubtedly planted clues throughout the book, but I didn't pick many of them up. Jimm Juree may be an amateur sleuth, but this is not what's usually termed a "cozy" mystery. In particular, the killer of the Buddhist abbot is very depraved and vicious.

But this book is not just about solving mysteries. It's about a young woman coming to grips with what she really wants in life. It's about a young woman who is finally in a situation that makes her really get to know the members of her family. As a mystery, as a glimpse into life in rural Thailand, as a study of human behavior, this is an enjoyable, strong work of fiction-- even though it's not always for the faint-hearted.

It's also not always for those who are easily offended. The book title and chapter headings are all quotes from our former President, George W. Bush. If you're a fan of our 43rd President's eloquence, or if you find it offensive when people in other countries poke some gentle fun at the United States, you may want to pass on this book. All the quotes do tie into the plot, the characters, and the motivations, however.

Of course the immediate comparison for this book is going to be Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series set in Botswana. The only things they really have in common are a light tone, excellent casts of characters, and exotic locations. There is more depth and a more fully developed mystery in Cotterill's book.

I am one very happy reader now that I have both Dr. Siri and Jimm Juree to look forward to.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Let's welcome a new series July 10 2011
By Dr. Cathy Goodwin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
It's always a delight to find a new mystery author. I was a little nervous about this one, with the Thailand locale and the protagonist's journalism background. However, I was completely caught up in the story and the characters.

Cotterill's writing is extraordinary. He's especially good at transporting the reader to the story's environment so we feel we're there, in this desolate place. The heroine's sardonic tone saves her from sounding whiny as she's ended in this desolate spot in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by her family that's beyond dysfunctional. The book has been compared to the Alexander McCall Smith series, but I think this one is edgier. The author introduces some social commentary in the form of the George W. Bush quotations that open each chapter, creating a context for them somewhere in the middle. The acknowledgments also contain a hint of sarcasm with a reference to the Thai police.

Although there's a mystery, it's not really a whodunit. I don't think we're meant to look for clues and ultimately the puzzles are solved not by clever deduction but by systematically uncovering evidence. Of course our heroine is really good at digging up evidence and sometimes putting the facts together creatively. It's also not a fast-paced suspense novel, although I didn't want to put it down.

I was surprised at some of the reviews, so I'd say be careful about giving this book as a gift. But if you happen to like it, as I did, you are in for a rare treat. Let's hope Cotterill can match the quality with future volumes in this series.

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