Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Coroner’s Lunch – Book #16

| Title | The Coroner’s Lunch |
| Author |Colin Cotterill |
| Genre |Adult Mystery (Laotian) |
| Pages |257 |
| Publisher |Soho |
| Copyright |2004 |

Synopsis (from web-site)
Despite a total lack of training, an utter dearth of experience and a complete absence of inclination, Dr. Siri Paiboun has just been appointed state coroner for the Lao People's Democratic Republic. It's 1976, the royal family has been deposed, the professional classes have fled and the communists have taken over. And 72-year-old Siri - a communist for convenience and a wry old reprobate by nature - has got the coroner's job because he's the only doctor left in Laos.

But when the wife of a Party leader is wheeled into the morgue and the bodies of tortured Vietnamese soldiers start bobbing to the surface of a Laotian lake, all eyes turn to the new coroner. Faced with official cover-ups and an emerging international crisis, Siri will be forced to enlist old friends, tribal shamans, forensic deduction, spiritual acumen and some good old-fashioned sleuthing before he can discover quite what's going on...

Why I read It
I saw the latest book from Mr. Cotterill on my library’s new shelf and was intrigued. It takes place in Laos which I know nothing about. But since it is a ongoing series I went to the stacks and found this book, the first in the series.

What I Thought About It
While the author is British, he has spent most of his life in Southeast Asia, so I want to believe he has captured the feel of Laos. It is part of my ongoing effort to read more foreign literature, or at least foreign based stories. It clearly demonstrates the frustrations in living in a communist society, getting by with what life has dealt you. It also shows the power of being old, or in least in this case the power of not giving a damn anymore about what the “man” can do you. This story focuses on the life of the 72 year old coroner of Laos, the coroner because he was the only Doctor at the time that didn’t get out when the communists took over. He mistakenly thought he would be able to enjoy his retirement quietly. He gets frustrated by the imbeciles in charge wanting him to write death certificates to meet their quotas.

For example when a military boat crashes into a dock and chops off the legs of an old fisherman, instead of death by blood loss the local leader argues for natural causes (a heart attack because he was old). The thinking being the shock of losing his legs led to a heart attack. Anyways he finally has had enough of playing along and decides he is going to investigate the deaths that come his way like the detective in the old French novels he enjoyed in his youth. Fire him, kill him, he just doesn’t care anymore. Good stuff all the way around.

Mormon Mentions

Author Biography

Colin Cotterill is a London-born teacher, crime writer and cartoonist. Cotterill has dual English and Australian citizenship; however, he currently lives in Southeast Asia, where he writes the award-winning Dr. Siri mystery series set in the People's Democratic Republic of Laos.

1 comment:

Heather said...

new sites I think are funny.
I think both these are hilarious. Randy doesn't appreciate them like I do. Let me know what you think.