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“The Coroner’s Lunch is marvelous. The setting may be unique in Western fiction, and the characters are unique to themselves. Sweet but not sappy, offbeat but not self-conscious about it, this book doesn’t so much pull you in as open a door and let you walk happily through. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s books will love this one.”—SJ Rozan, author of Absent Friends
Laos, 1972. 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.
Colin Cotterill was born in London, taught in Australia, the U.S., Laos and Japan, and lives in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand on the Burmese border. He works for UNICEF and local nongovernmental agencies to prevent child prostitution and to rehabilitate abused children.
For more information, visit www.colincotterill.com
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Colin Cotterill, author of six previous books in the Dr Siri Paiboun series, lives in Chumphon, Thailand with his wife. His books have been Book Sense Picks, and he won the Dilys Award for Thirty-Three Teeth.Review:
''A wonderfully fresh and exotic mystery . . . If Cotterill . . . had done nothing more than treat us to Siri's views on the dramatic, even comic crises that mark periods of government upheaval, his debut mystery would still be fascinating. But the multiple cases spread out on Siri's examining table . . . are not cozy entertainments but substantial crimes that take us into the thick of political intrigue.'' --New York Times Book Review
''The sights, smells, and colors of Laos practically jump of the pages of this inspired, often wryly witty first novel.'' --Denver Post
''In Siri, Cotterill has created a detective as distinctive as Maigret or Poirot.'' --Orlando Sentinel
''The Soho Press crime series . . . has done mystery connoisseurs everywhere a favor by adding Colin Cotterill to its publishing list. The author gives us exotic locations; a world that few of us know well; crisp, intelligent, and often witty writing; and, most of all, a hero unlike any other.'' --Philadelphia Inquirer
''Engaging . . .This debut mystery, with its convincing and highly interesting portrayal of an exotic locale, marks the author as someone to watch.'' --Publishers Weekly
''If Siri lives long enough, he'll make a wry, eccentric addition to the genre.'' --Booklist (starred review)
''This series kickoff is an embarrassment of riches: Holmesian sleuthing, political satire, and [a] droll comic study of a prickly late bloomer.'' -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
''This is a winner.'' --Mystery Scene
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