The Coroner's Lunch (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #1)
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The Coroner's Lunch (Dr. Siri Paiboun #1)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  4,265 ratings  ·  740 reviews
Set in Laos, once part of Indochina, recently taken over by the Communist Pathet Lao party, its protagonist, Dr. Siri Paiboun, is a physician trained in Paris. For lack of other candidates - most of the educated class has fled - he has been appointed chief coroner. A lofty title, but the reality is humbling: a barely equipped morgue, staffed by a mentally handicapped morgu...more
Hardcover, 271 pages
Published 2007 by Quercus (first published 2004)
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Steve Sckenda
Jul 23, 2013 Steve Sckenda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Lovers of Southeast Asia and Character-Driven Mysteries
Recommended to Steve Sckenda by: Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
At 72, Dr. Siri yearns to drink coffee, tend his garden, and read his books. But instead of a pension and honorable retirement for this combat surgeon to the Pathet Lao, he is now, in 1976, the chief and only medical examiner in Laos– the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos– shortly after the communists seized power after a long cave-based insurgency that Siri helped. Now he will be cutting up bodies until the day he is ready to become one.

Dr. Siri’s unair-conditioned morgue is no better equip...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Jan 21, 2013 Carol. [All cynic, all the time] rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: fans of gentle mysteries
Recommended to Carol. [All cynic, all the time] by: richard
It's a new genre--the magical mystery (and if you finished the sentence with "tour," stop reading and click here: http://youtu.be/Hnrsqf33MXA

Dr. Siri, a member of the Communist Party for forty-seven years, has been made the first coroner in the new republic. We meet him sharing a case with a judge who has a talent for inappropriate mottos and is not "even bright enough for sarcasm." Dr. Siri, being twenty-two years past his normal lifespan, has reached a certain passivity in life that is about t...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
This review can now be seen on Shelf Indulgence!
Kim

This novel is set in Laos in 1976, shortly after the communist group Pathet Lao took political power, abolished the monarchy and established the Lao People's Democratic Republic. The narrative centres on Dr Siri Paiboun, who joined the communists because of his love for a woman rather than because of political conviction, worked with the group during its long insurgency and, at the age of 72 and longing for a quite retirement, is given the job of being Laos’ chief - and only - coroner. Through h...more
Debra
I loved this one so much I immediately requested the next one in the series from my library, even though I've already got a large stack of books to read. The characters are well-developed and intriguing; especially the doctor and his unusual staff. I really enjoyed the supernatural element, too. Gosh, I seemed tongue-tied; unable to find the right words to describe this unique book. It was humorous without being silly, and uplifting without being preachy. A small page-turner; easily read in a da...more
Dana Stabenow
It's Laos, 1976. Dr. Siri Paiboun thought he was going to be able to retire after the Communist takeover, but instead he is drafted into being the nation's only coroner. A doctor, yes, but Siri has no training in autopsies, so he gets hold of a couple of textbooks and has his nurse/assistant/soon to be apprentice coroner Dtui hold them open in front of him as he follows the diagrams in them, scalpel in hand.

Things are pretty quiet as this first in series begins but it doesn't stay that way for l...more
Julie
Now here I was, ladies and gents, just snuggling down with a perfect cosy mystery, The Coroner's Lunch, and thinking there would be a few twists and turns, a little mayhem, and voila -- comfort delivered. But before I reached page 10, I was laughing out loud in sheer delicious enjoyment, and I knew that although I had come to the right place for a cosy feeling, I was going to get far more than I bargained for. In a good way.

Dr. Siri Paiboun is a brilliant anti-revolutionary revolutionary-cum-cor...more
Almeta
It is so much more enjoyable to get the feel of a country, its culture and politics from the point of view of a citizen, rather than a politician or a newsperson! I am trusting that Dr. Siri (Laos) and his friends from other cultures (Thailand, Viet Nam, etc.) are good reflections of the citizenry. (I guess I’m putting my trust in Colin Cotterill also.)

That a morgue be can run by the cast of characters there is a remarkable feat to all outsiders, but the reader. I hope that we hear more about th...more
Marsha
A wonderful tongue in cheek satire on the revolution in Laos, "The Coroner's Lunch" tells the tale of Dr. Siri Paiboun, unwillingly chosen to become coroner in the new communist state. The powers that be think he will be another incompetent cog in the machinery of the bureaucracy. What they do not realize is that this man in his 70's has a work ethic that demands he do his job properly despite lack of equipment and resources. How Dr. Paiboun goes about his job and solves the mysteries is both en...more
Chris
“Fascinating” is the best word that that I come up with. For a second adjective I would choose “original.” I really enjoyed this mystery and have already bought the second in the series.

Where to start? This book worked for me on so many levels.

Set in the 70’s (post-Vietnam) in communist Laos our protagonist is a coroner. Mainly he pronounces deaths as “accidental” for the authorities who are philosophically and politically opposed to any death being classified as a murder---for murder as we all...more
LJ
First Sentence: Tran, Tran, and Hok broke through the heavy end-of-west-season clouds.

It is 1976 and one year after the Communist takeover of Laos. Dr. Siri Paiboun is 72-years old, a widower and ready to retire. Instead, he is appointed state coroner; in fact, he’s the only coroner in Laos and has three cases to deal with; the death of an important official’s wife, the discovery of bodies that could lead to an international incident between Laos and Vietnam, and uncovering the reason why the co...more
Terence
Aug 21, 2008 Terence rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: My GoodReads' friend Marsha
Shelves: mysteries
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

The setting is Laos just after the Pathet Lao seized power (c. 1975). Dr. Siri Paiboun is an old member of the Party dragooned into being the country's chief coronor because all the qualified candidates have fled. Untrained, nevertheless Siri sets out to learn the job and do the best job he can.

Cotterill writes with ease and engagingly and Siri is a very likable character (I can empathize with his phone phobia). I hope the author develops this into a continuing se...more
Pamela
I had a hard time with the opening scene of this book. Such a hard time that, had I not committed myself to read it, I would have stopped right there and returned it to the library.

In the opening scene 3 or 4 (can't remember exactly as I've tried to scrub the scene from my mind) dead bodies are thrown out of an airplane into a lake. The bodies are tied to each other and to a large amount of ordnance. They fall through the clouds, slip into the lake, and settle to the bottom with little more than...more
Jan
72-year-old physician Dr. Siri Paiboun joined the Laotian communist movement for love of his wife, 11 years dead. When the communists come to power, he is asked to be the country's head coroner -- in fact, its only coroner. Spirits of the people he dissects come to him, first in dreams and then in waking life. His loyal assistants in the morgue are Dtui, a smart-alecky young woman who wants to be the next coroner, and Mr. Geung, afflicted with mild Down's syndrome and gifted with a prodigious me...more
Joyce Lagow
As a septuagenerian myself, I must say I was intrigued by the idea of a 72 year old Laotian physician, Dr. Siri Paiboun, as the protagonist in a police procedural series.

Set in Laos in 1976, less than a year after the Communist takeover of that country, Paiboun, as one of the last physicians left in the country, has been drafted to serves as the national (and only) coroner. Never mind that he knows absolutely nothing at all about forensic medicine--he’s done surgery, right, and what’s the differ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I really enjoyed this book, which surprised me. I picked it up without really knowing what to expect, and when I read the first few pages I thought, No--this is not going to be my sort of thing, since "my sort of thing" tends to be prewar "cosies." Fortunately, I was wrong.
I grew up in sixties America, and the map of Viet Nam and environs was part of our lives--on television news twice a day, on the walls of friends' houses who had men in the service, at school. I can still draw the basic conto...more
Nesa Sivagnanam
Laos is a landlocked socialist republic in southeast Asia, bordering with the more dominant nations of China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. The Coroner's Lunch is set in 1976, a year after the end of a long civil war that resulted in the Soviet-backed communist Pathet Lao coming to power. The protagonist is Siri Paiboun, a doctor and a widower who, rather than being able to enjoy a peaceful retirement at the age of 72, is made the country's only coroner. One of the many delights of this book a...more
Mal Warwick
You’ve never read a mystery novel anything like this.

It’s 1976 in Vientiane, Laos. The Pathet Lao Communist government is in power in an uneasy relationship with its patron, the Vietnam of Ho Chi Minh.

Dr. Siri Paiboun, a long-suffering, 72-year-0ld doctor who has spent much of his life in the jungle as a reluctant guerrilla has been unhappily appointed the national coroner and stationed at a dangerously understaffed and under-resourced hospital in Vientiane. Dr. Siri has a staff of two in the mo...more
Andrea
Thank you Richard for this recommendation. It was delightful, quirky, colourful, entertaining, cleverly constructed and most thoughtful. I got up to chapter 2 and immediately bought the second in the series!
We are really close to Laos at the moment so it feels right.
My finger is itching to press the "buy now" button on my kindle for the third book...Dr Siri is going to be an unexpected expense on our Vietnam trip...
AC
Nov 21, 2013 AC marked it as i-get-the-picture  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
The opening sections of this book really impressed - vivid and fresh writing... and the cover art on this series is wonderful. From there, however, it went downhill. When he started to see 'dead people' walking around the morgue and in his waking state, he lost me... I have another of his books lying around and may try that one someday -- maybe.
Todd
I love good mysteries. And I loved the character Quincy. And I love the political science of Asia.

So a murder mystery, featuring a Laotian coroner, set just after the establishment of the Lao People's Democratic Republic just about had me drooling.

I did like this book, and character of the coroner and the setting.

What I liked less well were the mystical/supernatural powers of the coroner. I can respect their inclusion from an inter-cultural communication perspective. But to me they detracted fro...more
Rob Kitchin
It’s quite difficult to pigeonhole The Coroner’s Lunch, other than to say it’s a crime novel set in Laos in 1976. It’s too political to be a cozy, though it does have leanings that way; it has too much humour and comic charm for a noir or hardboiled; and it’s more a cultural commentary than a police procedural. It’s also very good. Cotterill’s skill is manifold: the story being well paced and plotted, with a good balance between show and tell, giving enough but not too much back story, and it be...more
Carrie
To be honest, the 3 star rating is more likely the result of my lack of knowledge and slight laziness than because of the book itself. The Coroner's Lunch is set in the 1970's in Laos following political struggles that resulted in it becoming a communist country. My knowledge of history concerning Laos is practically nil. Furthermore, I do not know anything about the political interactions between Laos, Thailand, China, and Vietnam during the 70's. Therefore, at times I had some difficulty follo...more
Cheryl
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 gu...more
Ian
It's 1975 and the Communist Pathet Lao have won their revolutionary struggle to assume power in Laos, having defeated the US backed Royalist government. Dr Siri Palboun has been part of that fight, working as a doctor in the jungle camps. He is 72 years old and expecting to be able to retire, but against his will and with no experience in the role at all, he is appointed National Coroner. It's a political appointment and he is expected to toe the Communist party line when investigating unusual d...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Coroner’s Lunch, by Colin Cotterill, A-minus, Narrated by Clive Schafer, produced by Blackstone Audio, downloaded from audible.com.

At last! This title is available as an audio book. I’ve waited for a long time for this book, which has had so many recommendations! Laos, 1975: The Communist Pathet Lao has taken over this former French colony. Dr. Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old Paris-trained doctor, is appointed national coroner. Although he has no training for the job, there is no one else: the r...more
aPriL meows, scratches and growls
I felt a peculiar sideways orientation throughout my reading (listening, actually) of the book, but in thinking about it, I guess it's possible the ordinary Laotian might be living a quiet tranquil life with daily, neighborly joys and a complete disassociation from anything dark that might threaten to reside within their personalities, like depression, constant fear of arrest and torture and imprisonment without representation, struggling every day very hard for the four necessities to being ali...more
Lulu
Sorry. There's some laziness going on here. First off, I'm going to admit to you that I read only 50 pages of this book. I do, however, two have excellent reasons for having abandoned it at this juncture.

1. The main character, an elderly coroner named Siri, has two assistants. One, Dtui, is a brash and chunky nurse begging to be his apprentice. Of course she manages light and witty banter both with Siri and with Mr. Geung, the other lab assistant. Mr. Geung has Down's syndrome, and impeccable m...more
Carol
Jun 28, 2012 Carol rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: EVERYONE who enjoys a good mystery
This is the most wonderous series! It was one I thought would be a conventional who-done-it, but it is SOOOO much more.

Dr. Siri Paiboum is a French trained Doctor who is a native of Cambodia. Due to meeting his wife in France, who was a communist, he became part of Cambodia's fight to bring power to the people, wresting away from the corrupt goverment, which was topped by a Royal family. After years of fighting a civil war, and participating in the Vietnam communist faction in their civil war, t...more
Judy
Jun 25, 2012 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: atypical mystery readers
Recommended to Judy by: Ilona
Shelves: mystery, laos, fiction
The components of this book consist of a 72-year old coroner not-wanna-be in the city of Vientiane, Laos,a gaggle of power-hungry, Communist officials, voodoo, political unrest between Vietnam and Laos as well as the Hmong ethnic group and the Communist Party, all this neatly packed into a nicely-written mystery. Most of my GR friends know that I burnt out the mystery-loving sphere of my brain in my 20s and 30s when I wolfed down mysteries like they were going to become extinct. So, when I pick...more
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Around the World ...: Ilona recommends: The Coroner's Lunch 2 17 Oct 17, 2011 06:08AM  
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Colin Cotterill was born in London and trained as a teacher and set off on a world tour that didn't ever come to an end. He worked as a Physical Education instructor in Israel, a primary school teacher in Australia, a counselor for educationally handicapped adults in the US, and a university lecturer in Japan. But the greater part of his latter years has been spent in Southeast Asia. Colin has tau...more
More about Colin Cotterill...
Thirty-Three Teeth (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #2) Disco For The Departed (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #3) Anarchy And Old Dogs (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #4) Curse Of The Pogo Stick (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #5) The Merry Misogynist (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #6)

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“He put his hand on his forehead and scoured the French department of his memory for a word. He knew it was in there. He'd put it in almost fifty years before and hadn't had cause to remove it. But for the life of him he couldn't find it.” 9 likes
“There was nothing fake or added about him. He was all himself.” 4 likes
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