switterbug (Betsey)'s Reviews > The Coroner's Lunch

The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill
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's review
Feb 22, 2011

it was amazing
Read in June, 2010

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 hightailed it out, leaving the poverty stricken to submit to the new Party line. Yet, with nothing but the inherited motley staff and his curiosity, Siri has become adept at his job.

Then the body count starts to rise in this typically uneventful morgue. A Party leader's wife (herself an appointee of high position), some Vietnamese soldiers that were tortured--and it doesn't stop there. While a cover-up is surely transpiring, Siri and his staff work diligently to get to the bottom of things. In a wry, comic manner, Siri sleuths with sly, Columbo-ish flair. There's a wrinkle to Siri's style, though, as he receives regular visits from the dead. A meeting in the Khamuan province piques the spiritual element and explains the coroner's visitations, but it never takes away from the political intrigue or social commentary, so exotically understated.

Cotterrill has created inventive and palpable characters that navigate through a ham-handed regime, but the author does it with a droll finesse. His satirical observations are underscored by the crimes at hand, but the reader doesn't feel laden with exposition. I received a capital education as a by-product of a crisp, well-paced mystery. There's a jaunty, harrowing cliffhanger following the resolution of this case, baiting me toward the next book. I'll bite.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Bill just finished this...it was great, I read it all in one sitting. will definitely read more in this series too.

switterbug (Betsey) I think I have read one other of the series--this just reminded me to collect some more.

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