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The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill (2004)

  1. 82
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    Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins (Littlemissbashful)
    Littlemissbashful: Eccentric characters, mystical goings on, wily old folk and wry humour with intriguing plot points.
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Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
Dr. Siri is a 72-yo medical doctor who has been appointed to the position of head coroner with the newly-formed Communist government in Laos (1975.) Faced with limited resources, but armed with stubbornness and curiosity, he takes on the challenges of determining the cause of death for his cases. However, it must be noted that this first-in-series isn't really about solving crimes via forensic science and logic; but more of a historical novel reflecting the Asian brand of magical realism (spirits) juxtaposed against the poli-bureaucratic realities of the time. ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Nov 27, 2016 |
I liked this low-key crime novel set in the Laos of the 1970s. A little bit like the Alexander McCall Smith series but not so twee. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
It would have been 4 stars except I am not a fan of the paranormal aspects. It strikes me as a cheat to give the 'detective' clues through supernatural means... ( )
  leslie.98 | Oct 26, 2016 |
I love mysteries - especially ones with crotchety old detectives who buck the system. I also appreciate that we learn about Laos and Laotian culture along the way. Central to the novel is the sleuth's extrasensory predilection and this aspect reminds me of Sax Rohmer's _Dream Detective_. Justice is served but it takes a hero of mythic proportion to bring it about and set things right in their world. This is a charming and seductive sleuth. ( )
  dbsovereign | Sep 4, 2016 |
This was one of those books where the plot steals you away. You sit down to read and before you know it your lunch break is over, your coffee is cold and a hundred pages have flown by before your eyes. It's a fun read.
The year is October 1976 and Dr. Siri Paiboun is a reluctant chief police coroner for the Republic in Laos. He didn't want the job. At 72 years old, he was ready to be a gardening, reading, coffee and brandy drinking retired physician. He lacked the qualifications to be a coroner, had next to no on-the-job training with dead people (in theory, as a physician he tried to avoid the dead at all cost) and truly lacked enthusiasm for the job entirely. Yet, when bodies suddenly start popping up with suspicious causes of death, with the help of few slightly charred textbooks from 1948, some ghosts, and his sidekicks, a Downs Syndrome technician and a dowdy nurse, Siri slowly embraces the role of detective/coroner. Complicating matters is the Communist Pathet Lao party. They want Siri to report on these deaths in only one way - natural causes. But thanks to Siri's disregard for authority and his sly sense of humor he only wants one thing - the truth.
Yes, there is a paranormal element to The Coroner's Lunch but it works. Everything about this book works. In fact. I read it in one day. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jun 29, 2016 |
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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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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.
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Tran, Tran, and Hok broke through the heavy end-of-wet-season clouds.
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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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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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