- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Soho Crime (Nov. 1 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1569474184
- ISBN-13: 978-1569474181
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.8 x 19 cm
- Shipping Weight: 204 g
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #382,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Coroner's Lunch Paperback – Nov 1 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Confronted by the poisoning of an important official's wife and the sudden appearance of three bodies that may create an international incident between Laos and Vietnam, 72-year-old state coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun keeps his cool in Cotterill's engaging whodunit, set in Laos a year after the 1975 Communist takeover. Ably assisted by the entertaining Geung and ambitious Dtui, Siri calmly gleans clues from minute examinations of the bodies while circumnavigating bureaucratic red tape to arrive at justice. Only an attempt on his life manages to rattle him—and for good reason. In addition to being comfortable around corpses, Siri actually converses with the dead during his dreams. These scenes come across more as a personification of Siri's natural intuition than as a supernatural element. Less explainable is Siri's journey to a northern Laos army base, where he becomes involved in the witchcraft and spirit world of the local tribespeople. Despite this minor detour into the implausible and a later, jarring change in viewpoint, this debut mystery, with its convincing and highly interesting portrayal of an exotic locale, marks the author as someone to watch.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* This first Dr. Siri Paiboun mystery introduces readers to a delightful old man conscripted in 1975 to become the chief medical examiner of Laos after the nation's "only doctor with a background in performing autopsies had crossed the river" into Thailand, "allegedly in a rubber tube." Siri thought he'd settle down with a state pension after helping the Communists force the Laotian royal family from power, but the party won't let him retire until he is a drooling shell. So the spry seventysomething settles into a routine of studying outdated medical texts and scrounging scarce supplies to perform the occasional cursory examination while making witty observations about the bumbling new regime to his oddball assistants. But when the wife of a party leader turns up dead and the bodies of tortured Vietnamese soldiers start bobbing to the surface of a Laotian lake, all eyes turn to Siri. Faced with dueling cover-ups and an emerging international crisis, the doctor enlists old friends, Hmong shamans, forest spirits, dream visits from the dead--and even the occasional bit of medical deduction--to solve the crimes. If Siri lives long enough, he'll make a wry, eccentric addition to the genre. Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
It is 1976 and one year after the Communist takeover of Laos. Dr. Siri Paiboun is 72-years old, a widower and ready to retire. Instead, he is appointed state coroner; in fact, he's the only coroner in Laos and has three cases to deal with; the death of an important official's wife, the discovery of bodies that could lead to an international incident between Laos and Vietnam, and uncovering the reason why the commanders of an Army base, located in northern Laos, keep dying.
How have I missed Cotterill until now? Let me start with history. I am of the Vietnam era; I had friends who fought, and died, there. Once the war was over, I had very little interest in that area of the world.
Now I find it fascinating to see how Communism controlled every aspect of individual's lives. What I particularly like is that Cotterill doesn't present it in a heavy-handed manner, but through the character's perspective of that being the way life is. In some ways, I find that more effective.
The characters are wonderful. Dr. Siri, who performs his first autopsy with the help of a very old French book, his assistants, Dtui who reads Thai fan magazines, and Geung who has mild Down's Syndrome, plus his friends are all delightfully portrayed with affection and, often, humor. But it is Siri who takes the lead and is our connection to the metaphysical world.
With his white hair, uncontrolled eyebrows and shocking green eyes, Siri stands out on his own, but he can also see the dead and communicate with spirits. Rather than making the book unbelievable, it adds dimension and an element of suspense to the story in a way that is hard to quantify.
There is a wonderful sense of place to the story, but different from the usual. It is very much tied in with the way people live, rather than descriptions of the location in which the story is set.
I am so pleased to have found this author and have already ordered the rest of this series.
THE CORONER'S LUNCH (Lic. Inv-Dr. Siri Paiboun-Laos-Cont/1976) ' VG+
Cotterill, Colin ' 1st in series
Soho Crime, ©2004, US Paperback ' ISBN: 1569474184
Author Colin Cotterill has created a good man living in difficult times. The year is 1975 and Laos is now communist run. Paiboun, even though he is 72 and looking forward to retirement, is appointed as National Coroner. He has no budget, limited supplies and must report to an in-experienced judge who wants all results to follow the needs of the party. In his favour, Nurse Dtui is an eager assistant and Mr. Geung, while living with Downs Syndrome, functions as far more than an orderly.
Early in his tenure as coroner, the results of several autopsies don't add up to the neat and tidy results the court wants. Siri realises he has to dig deeper even if it gets him into trouble. The spirits of the dead have come to him and pressed him to find the truth. He can't deny them.
I liked Dr. Siri right from the opening pages. He exemplifies many of the characteristics that I believe in. Truth, doing a job to the best of your abilities, making the best of a difficult situation are just a few. Perhaps it is his curiosity and questioning nature that make him so real.
The story also has a set of characters that I want to meet again. The nurse and orderly assigned to the morgue add greatly to the story. At first they seem unlikely aides, but as we get to know them, their dedication to Siri and the job become obvious. Police Officer Phosy is Siri's police liaison. He's a bit of a mystery, but seems to be united with Siri in finding the truth.
I learned quite a bit about the geography and culture of Laos. It's a country I have no experience with and felt that Mr. Cotterill did a great job of bringing it to life for me. I am looking forward to reading more about Dr. Siri and his investigations.
I listened to the audio book from Oakhill Publishing. Read by Gareth Armstrong. 8 hours 8 mins .
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