this is the 101st in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill, © 2004, Soho Crime, 2004 trade paper – first mystery novel featuring Dr. Siri Paiboun
In a review written several years ago for my print mystery publication, I said “I like that short story collections allow me to read authors who are new to me.” In a collection I’d just read there was a story by Colin Cotterill. I liked it so I decided to find the first novel in the series, which I did.
This is the book. I found right away that I like Cotterill’s writing and the character of Dr. Siri Paiboun, the reluctant 72-year-old Laotian national coroner.
Dr. 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. Instead he settles into a routine of studying outdated medical texts and scrounging scarce supplies to perform the occasional cursory examination, meanwhile making witty observations about the bumbling new regime to his oddball assistants. Then 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, and all eyes turn to Siri. Faced with possible murder and a political cover-up which could escalate into an international crisis, the doctor enlists old friends, dream visits from the dead and the occasional bit of medical deduction to solve the crimes.
It took me only a few pages to be intrigued by Dr. Siri Paiboun, a wonderful character. I was also soon caught up by the story. This is a delightful mystery with an intriguing cast of characters. If you haven’t tried Cotterill yet, delay no longer. The second book, the next in the series, is The Thirty-Three Teeth.
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The rest of the Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinaise