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The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill (2004)

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    Littlemissbashful: Eccentric characters, mystical goings on, wily old folk and wry humour with intriguing plot points.

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Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
This was a really good mystery story set in 1970’s Laos. I enjoy reading about places I’m unfamiliar with, because I learn just a little bit about the place and its history. The primary character Siri is an older doctor in his early 70’s who was hoping to retire once the revolution was won and communism was in control of Laos. Instead they made him Coroner, a job he knew nothing about. Once involved in an actual investigation however, he is fascinated and is invigorated at the new challenge.

There is also a bit of the supernatural with this story, as Siri finds out he is a Shaman. He dreams of dead people who are able to communicate to him. Throughout this book he learns to accept and believe in his gift. His two assistants are interesting; one is a female nurse who becomes Siri’s protégé, the other a man with Downs Syndrome who greets visitors, keeps the lab clean and passes messages along. Both of these assistants and their unique gifts are treated with respect by Siri. Overall Siri was a very likeable and amusing protagonist, and I look forward to continuing this series. 4.5 stars ( )
  dorie.craig | Jun 22, 2017 |
I few years ago a realization struck me. Why were the protagonists of the books I was reading invariably between the ages of 20 to 40 (give or take a few years at each end of the interval)? Publishing-wise it seemed like nothing interesting was happening to people outside this age bracket. Is this realistic? Does it matter? No wonder our society is obsessed with youth when fiction is aimed at certain age groups. After 40, am I simply seen as irrelevant? I’m sick and tired of reading about some 25-year-old that has the perfect career all tied up and is mature beyond his/her years (“Twilight” comes to mind). A novel with characters always in the right age group is for me a difficult sell. Is our society afraid to age and is that the reason why it clings to the same old stereotypes?

You can read the rest of this review on my blog. ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 97 (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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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.
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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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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Penguin Australia

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