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The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill (2004)

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Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
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 |
I really enjoyed this. It was a very quick and easy read, and despite the body count fairly light hearted. I look forward to reading more of Colin Cotterill's books. ( )
  KarenDuff | Jun 1, 2016 |
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.
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
This was a fun read, to squeeze in on the weekend between the regular chores and Christmas planning activities. This is the first of a mystery series, set in 1970s Laos, starring an elderly wanna-be-retired-surgeon who is coerced into becoming the only coroner after the revolution. Siri might be extremely reluctant, but he is still a conscientious and honest professional, who does his job too well. This of course, is going to get him into trouble, as he clashes with the bureacrats and the bad guys. He is quite likeable and funny. When his obnoxious boss-judge orders him to start wearing proper shoes instead of sandals, because "Civilized people wear shoes. Our comrades expect it of us.", Siri replies, "...I think if the proletariat are going to kiss my feet, the least I can do is give them a few toes to wrap their lips around."
A bit of a paranormal element was slipped in, which was a bit too much -- I think it could have been left in the arena of dreams/intuition/gut feeling/ rather than being elevated to the significance it was given in the later parts of the book. But overall, it was a fun little jaunt with some snappy funny dialogue, a bit of a mystery, and some likeable characters. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Colin Cotterillprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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