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“Really enjoyed this - thanks to the Shelfari community! This was recommended as I completed on of my reviews - just on the basis of otehr books I'd enjoyed. It's the first of a series (that I am enjoying!) dealing with the Lao coroner Dr Siri Paiboun, who - despite no training and little...”see full review » see other reviews »
“Dr. Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old physician in Laos, has been looking forward to his retirement and lazy days sitting by the river but he is stunned to find that he has been appointed head Coroner, or truthfully, the only coroner. It is 1976 and the Communist party has taken control of the country. Siri has no choice but to agree to take on the post as he knows he no longer can count on a pension and the fact that he could very well be sent away to be "re-educated" to be a good citizen. He has no interest in politics having left the revolutionary work to his late wife Boua and he is not trained to be a coroner but Siri reluctantly agrees. He is immediately tasked with the autopsy of a high ranking official's wife. His investigation into her death is thwarted by her uncooperative husband and the suspicious disappearance of his reports and autopsy photos. Siri understands that there is something that her husband is covering up but Siri is determined to find the cause of the woman's death. When Siri investigates the death of a Vietnamese man who appears to have been tortured Siri himself becomes the target of a shadowy assasin who will stop at nothing to keep Siri from finding the true reason for the man's death.
I really like Dr. Siri and his two helpers, nurse Dtui and Mr. Geung, a morgue assistant with Down's syndrome. The three of them share a deep sense of curiosity and dedication to their patients. There is quite a bit of paranormal activity in Siri's life as he is able to converse with the deceased in his dreams. At times the political aspects of the story became quite confusing to me but it was a good book nonethless.
“A light-hearted detective story that reminded me a little of The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Dr Siri is an aged surgeon who was looking forward to a peaceful retirement... until the new communist regime in Lao insisted that he become their chief coroner instead. Despite knowing nothing about autopsy, Siri sets out to learn the skills for his new trade (aged 72) and along the way uncovers more than he bargained for. Quick-paced and with a good amount of humour, I enjoyed this and would give it 3.5 stars. ”Sashinka wrote this review Sunday, November 3, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“An unusual story that takes place in Laos has humor, mystery. and suspense”Joe F wrote this review Tuesday, September 10, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I read this a few years ago and then re-read it after returning from Laos. It all makes much more sense now that it did then and I read it with more pleasure. Dr Siri and his team in the morgue are wonderful.”Ann T wrote this review Friday, May 10, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“"A wonderfully fresh and exotic mystery. The sights, smells and colors of Laos practically jump off the pages of this inspired, often wryly witty first novel."”Calgal1968 wrote this review Wednesday, March 20, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Review: The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill.
I have read my first book by Colin Cotterill and now looking forward to reading more of his books. It was written in a clear prose with a mixture of comedy hidden within the dialogue. The nature of the story kept me curious, sometimes sadden but uplifting.
The story was set in Laos in 1976 a year after the Pathet Lao seized power following the long guerilla war against the monarchy. The person of interest is Dr, Siri Palboun, a crime solving national coroner of Laos. Siri was also an active Communist resistance at one time but the elders still appointed him state coroner despite his lack of training in taking bodies apart, and he was forced to learn on the job. I found him to be sort of obsessed by a spirit of an ancient Sharman, in a humorous way.
The reader gets to meet Siri’s friend Civalal, morgue assistants Geung and Dtui, and his police partner Phosy and his boss Kaeng, and his spirit co-inhabitant Yeh Ming. They are all great characters. Every character was created cleverly with small personal weaknesses which slowly revealed their true colors as the story progressed. I was intrigued how Cotterill came across with the solutions to the mysteries of the crimes.
“An amazing series - a good mystery set during post-revolutionary times in Laos. I enjoyed the humor as well as the true-to-life characters.”humbledaisy wrote this review Friday, March 1, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Set in Laos in 1976, Dr Siri Paiboun is looking forward to a well deserved peaceful retirement. Unfortunately, the powers that be in this new communist regime has other plans for him and he is appointed national Coroner. Given an antiquated pathology lab with virtually no resources he has to reluctantly learn the basics from ancient textbooks and the two assistants he has inherited from his predecessor. His relationship with and treatment of these two colleagues turns out to be one of the best, most heartwarming aspects of the book. I'll leave you to discover that for yourself!
His future looks set, with occasional, predictable straightforward cases when the wife of a high ranking security official dies suddenly. Everyone wants to dismiss her death as natural, but Dr Siri has nagging doubts which he is determined to pursue.
Early in his investigation, which much to his surprise has fired him up and got him truely interested in his job for the first time, he is called away to assist with a case at military operation in the south of the country. Every senior officer sent down to run a forestry operation appears to go mad or die in suspicious circumstances. Siri, is forced to face up to the fact that not everything has a completely explainable physical cause and as the situation develops even has to face up to certain "supernatural elements " of his own personality which he has tried his best to ignore.
Don't want to give anything else away in terms of plot or characters, there's too much fun in finding this out for yourself. Once you're hooked you just need to stay with it, cheering Dr Siri on and knowing he'll what's right.
This is by no means a perfect plot, I found it hard to keep track of minor characters at times due to the foreign names and found one of the main plot lines somewhat confusing. It all comes together a bit too easily in the conclusion, but there were some decent red herrings and you just love the main characters so much that there's no way you're going to give up.”
“Highly recommended - this book was funny, suspenseful and very creative!”Kendall Carr wrote this review Thursday, January 24, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
A fantastic start to what is definitely promising to be a good series. Dr. Siri Paiboun is an elderly doctor who was assigned against his will to work as coroner for the government of Laos, 1975. Despite the changing political scene and his overwhelming desire to stay retired, he manages to unwind several mysterious deaths - and is helped by his dreams of the spirits of the dead.
I loved this book. The setting was fascinating and the writing was cleverly funny without being obnoxious (the sentence, "He was prepared for every eventuality--that is, apart from the eventuality that actually eventuated." happens, but that type of writing doesn't overwhelm the book.) The mystic elements were very well tied in, and surprisingly subtle, so don't expect a "ghost whisperer" fantasy. I can't wait to read more of this series.”