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

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  9,415 Ratings  ·  1,400 Reviews
Laos, 1978: Dr. Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old medical doctor, has been unwillingly appointed the national coroner of newly-socialist Laos. Though his lab is underfunded, his boss is incompetent, and his support staff is quirky to say the least, Siri’s sense of humor gets him through his often frustrating days.

When the body of the wife of a prominent politician comes through
...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 257 pages
Published December 1st 2004 by Soho Press (first published 2004)
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Carol.
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of gentle mysteries
Recommended to Carol. 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
Candi
4 stars

This was a very entertaining and refreshingly different read! Set in the communist country of Laos during the 1970's, The Coroner's Lunch is a mystery/crime novel with a bit of the supernatural and a nice dose of humor thrown into the mix. I absolutely loved Dr. Siri Paiboun, a bit of an atypical sort of hero, but a very charming and convincing one despite his background and his seventy-two years. Siri is not in the least a detective, but instead has his training in medicine. With retirem
...more
Liz
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I can’t remember how I stumbled across this book. Was it an Amazon daily deal? A Prime book of the month? Whatever, it has languished on my kindle for months if not years. Somehow my husband read it before I did and was heavy on the praise (and the laughter). I can see why. This book is strong on dry wit and sarcasm. It takes place in 1978 Laos. Dr. Siri is a 72 year old coroner not exactly in love with the communist regime. I found myself consistently chuckling at the good doctor’s takes on lif
...more
Margitte
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: murder
I love the German title for this novel, Den motvillige kommunisten (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #1) It must mean something like 'the willfull communists' (or purposeful communists?)- which is satirical in itself. !!! Oops, I've had it wrong. See Tania's comments below. !!!

THE BLURB
Laos, 1978: Dr. Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old medical doctor, has been unwillingly appointed the national coroner of newly-socialist Laos. Though his lab is underfunded, his boss is incompetent, and his support staff is quirky to
...more
Debra
Apr 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Richard Derus
This review can now be seen on Shelf Indulgence!
Kim
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Julie
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Juliane Kunzendorf
This book was mentioned in passing on Episode 037 of the Reading Envy podcast, and it peaked my curiosity. Later on, I ended discussing it on Reading Envy Podcast Episode 042. I love when books trickle down.

Dr. Siri is 72 years old, but as a person under a new Communist regime who still has skills to offer, the government is not going to let him become a person of leisure. After a career as a surgeon, he is tasked with being the official state coroner, and has to teach himself with outdated text
...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
Carol
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I likely would never have found The Coroner's Lunch if it hadn't been a group read for The World's Literature book group here on Goodreads, and it would have been my loss. If, like me, you like mysteries but weary of the formulaic cynical police investigator or PI, the standard 6 - 8-character cozy village and requisite 2 red herrings and misdirection, this first Dr. Siri novel from Colin Cotterill is a must-read. Dr. Siri is a wonderful, believable character. Laos is a character in its own righ ...more
Lotte
I loved the unique setting and characters of this book (it's set in 1976 in Laos and the protagonist is a 72-year-old state coroner), but the mystery was kind of all over the place and ultimately, didn't convince me.
(I listened to this on audiobook.)
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Probably the most original mystery novel I've ever read, it blends detective work with some mysticism and a dash of humor. Dr. Siri is a refreshing investigative character, a unique introduction to this genre. I'd like to thank whoever suggested this book to me but can't remember who it was, so if you read this comment and I'll update my review.
Amy
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Awesome setting. Interesting characters. Witty dialog. Loved it.
Michael
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great kickoff to the world of elderly coroner Siri Paiboun working within the contraints of communist Laos. Such a lovable old cuss and so crafty in manipulating the forces of the regime to achieve his own solutions for justice. The portrayal of personalities and daily life is more important than the drama behind his cases.
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
Cheryl
Sep 17, 2015 rated it liked it
A cozy, political, ghost-whisperer, medical-examiner mystery set in 1976 Communist Laos. Yeah. It's kind of all over the place. There were also clumsy info-dumps at the end, explaining the murders in detail. The coroner, Dr. Siri, did hold my interest, though. This is the first book in the series, so maybe the plots get a bit tighter in subsequent books.
HBalikov
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine for a moment that while you were in Paris studying medicine, you fell in love with another student and got married. Imagine that, as a condition of marrying this beautiful woman, you agreed to go back to French Indochina and join the revolutionary forces. Imagine, further, that you are now in your seventies, the revolution has been recently won and you are told that you will now take the role of the chief (and only) coroner in all of Laos. That is precisely the circumstances in which we ...more
Azma
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 80aroundtheworld
Found this mystery very informative about Laotian history, religion, politics, and minorities. The setting in Vientiane, Laos, and its environs looms large, even bringing into the mystery the neighboring Vietnamese and the Hmong minority. The Pathet Lao communists have recently taken over the country from the Royal family, and have on their agenda progress and betterment for Laos. The main character--lifelong Communist and soldier, medical doctor, and now Laos's coroner--Dr. Siri Paiboun is "ske ...more
Chris
Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Susan in NC
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this mystery set in Laos in 1976 soon after the Communist Pathet Lao regime has taken over. It’s been on my tbr pile for ages, and I finally read it as part of the Book For All Seasons group’s challenge to read a book set in or an author from another hemisphere; I live in the USA, so perfect! It’s a time and place I know very little about, but it also stars a fabulous protagonist I can’t wait to revisit.

Dr. Siri Paiboun, a physician, has been appointed chief coroner; sounds imp
...more
Pamela
Jul 31, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dana Stabenow
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
switterbug (Betsey)
Laos 1976. Dr. Siri Panboun, seventy-two years old and itching to retire, was essentially coerced into the appointment of national coroner after the Communist takeover. Prior to this, he knew nothing about autopsies. Siri was a general physician earning respect and warmth from his patients. He had never worked on cold, dead bodies. His predecessor had fled across the river to Thailand, leaving a gap in the state-controlled medical examiners office. Most of the professional classes have hightaile ...more
Warwick
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime, laos
I came to this more from an interest in Laos than a particular love of crime fiction. But still, I was a little disappointed. The characters are nicely-drawn, but the setting never really came alive for me, and Cotterill is a bit heavy-handed in some of the descriptions and dialogues. A middle section concerning a trip to a Hmong village seemed to have no bearing on the rest of the plot. And I was particularly annoyed to find a supernatural element to the crime-solving. Maybe I'm a bit of a trad ...more
Terence
Jul 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Terence by: My GoodReads' friend Marsha
Shelves: mysteries-noir
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
Lynn
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book very much. I knew I would probably like this series but I liked it even better than I thought I would.

Dr. Siri Palbourn is 72 years old and was ready for retirement. He is living in Laos and it is 1976. He studied medicine in France when he was a young man. He fell in love with a young revolutionary and followed her back to fight for the cause. Now he is 72 and and Laos has a new communist government. The doctor who had experience in doing autopsies swam across the river to T
...more
Nesa Sivagnanam
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Dr. Siri Paiboun (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • 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)
  • Love Songs from a Shallow Grave (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #7)
  • Slash and Burn (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #8)
  • The Woman Who Wouldn't Die (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #9)
  • Six and a Half Deadly Sins (Dr. Siri Paiboun #10)
  • I Shot the Buddha (Dr. Siri Paiboun #11)

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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.” 16 likes
“There was nothing fake or added about him. He was all himself.” 8 likes
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