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The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill
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The Coroner's Lunch (2004)

by Colin Cotterill

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Dr. Siri Paiboun (1)

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1,3921128,587 (3.84)510
The Communist Pathet Lao has taken over this former French colony. Most of the educated class has fled, but Dr. Siri Paiboun, a Paris-trained doctor whose late wife had been an ardent Communist, remains. And so this 72-year-old physician is appointed state coroner, despite the fact that he has no training or even supplies to use in performing his new task. What he does have is curiosity and integrity. At his age he is not about to let a bunch of ignorant bureaucrats dictate to him. One of his first cases involves three bodies recovered from a reservoir, but Dr. Siri establishes that the cause of death was not drowning. These men seem to have been electrocuted, perhaps tortured, and they also seem to be Vietnamese, which could have international repercussions. And then there is the inexplicable death of a Party bigwig's equally important wife. She collapsed and died at a banquet. But Dr. Siri doesn't think her death was from natural causes. In the course of his investigations, Dr. Siri must travel to his birthplace, a Hmong village he has not visited for more than 60 years, where he makes a profound discovery, not only about the motive for several murders, but about himself.… (more)
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» See also 510 mentions

English (109)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (113)
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed this mystery. I like both the main character as well as the supporting characters. The mysteries were interesting and kept my interest. I liked reading about how Dr. Siri was able to conduct his business with very little resources. My favorite part was learning about a new culture and what is was like living in a young communist country during that time. ( )
  Cora-R | May 22, 2019 |
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I'll read more in the series featuring the septuagenarian Laotian coroner with the dry sense of humor. ( )
  tkcs | Feb 23, 2019 |
I have absolutely no business starting yet another mystery series but I can't seem to stop. I've heard good things about this series for a couple of years now and I was intrigued because the setting and the main character are a bit out of the ordinary. This first book takes place in 1975 in Laos. Dr. Siri Paiboun is a doctor who would very much like to retire. The communist government, however, has named him the State Coroner.

I decided to listen to the audio format of this one. At first, I wasn't sure about the narrator. I was worried he was going to be too flat and monotone but then the dialog kicked in. He is a bit flat and monotone on the narrative parts of the story but his voice characterizations for the dialog are just spot on. His Dr. Siri is both weary and sarcastic. I love the way his sense of humor comes through as Clive Chafer speaks his words. I am now a huge fan of Dr. Siri and plan to continue the series in audio.

There are several mysteries involved in this book so Dr. Siri and his co-workers in the morgue stay busy. His assistants are delightfully quirky characters. Dr. Siri gets a bit of assistance in his death investigations because the deceases occasionally visit him to help him solve the mysteries surrounding their deaths. It's not all ghost story type stuff but it's a fun little quirk that even Dr. Siri had difficulty explaining.

If you're interested in murder mysteries that are a change of scenery from the usual fare, I encourage you to give this series a try. ( )
  SuziQoregon | Dec 30, 2018 |
enjoyed this more than i expected to - i think because the last mystery i read was a "cozy" - here our protagonist gets around and our author has an eye for certain details that makes the various settings come alive ( )
  nkmunn | Nov 17, 2018 |
When starting into this, I wondered whether I'd really enjoy it or not. Laos is outside my scope of reference in reading taste. However, the character development and the quirky, intriguing story line made me a convert. I'm now quickly into the second book and will likely work my way through this entire series. START WITH THIS ONE (#1 in the series) as the second has references back to it. ( )
  minfo | Oct 17, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Colin Cotterillprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abelsen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Amezawa, YasushiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diari, MatteoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malfoy, ValérieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mohr, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
With the kindest thanks and lots of love
to the following folks:

Pornsawan, Bouasawan, Chantavone, Sounieng, Ketkaew, Dr Pongruk, Bounlan, Don, Souk, Soun, Michael and his secretary, Somdee, David L., Nok, Dtee, Siri, Yayoi and Steph.
First words
Tran, Tran, and Hok broke through the heavy end-of-wet-season clouds.
Quotations
Most of the results from Siri’s morgue relied on archaic color tests: combinations of chemicals or litmus samples. These were more suitable for telling what wasn’t, rather than what was.
We, my children, are no longer common coroners. We are investigators of death.
He couldn’t imagine why old men would chase new-hatched chicks when there were pretty hens in the yard.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Penguin Australia

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