The Coroner's Lunch

The Coroner's Lunch

Book - 2004
Average Rating:
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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.
Publisher: New York : Soho Press, c2004
ISBN: 9781569473764
1569473765
Branch Call Number: MYS COT
MYS COT
Characteristics: 257 p. ; 20 cm

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m
myfriendkarla
Jul 11, 2017

So glad this was our book club pick. I'm now on the seventh in the Dr. Siri Paiboun mystery books by Colin Cotterill and have enjoyed them all. So much fun! I highly recommend The Coroner's Lunch. Colin provides a vivid glimpse into another time and culture (Laos, Communism, post-Vietnam War) along with likable, interesting characters and lively storytelling. Not always predictable whodunits, either. He makes sure to put in enough twists to keep you guessing and grinning.

b
brinyurchin
Jul 22, 2016

Smart, likable series with good characters, setting and history.

multcolib_susannel Jan 25, 2015

Political intrigue in Southeast Asia
70 year-old forensic Dr.Siri
and his unique assistants
humor and a bit of romance
oh, and of course- murder.

rowanquincy Dec 13, 2014

Very enjoyable read and will look for more books by this author. Liked the humor and the details of life in 70s Laos.

n
Novel_Librarian
Dec 03, 2014

Highlights of this series include:
- a charming main character and engaging support characters;
- intriguing mysteries without a lot of gore;
- interesting detail on 1970’s Communist Laos.

I’m hooked. The Coroner’s Lunch begins the series.

Helen100 Oct 28, 2014

This is a poignant, humorous, and unique murder mystery set in 1972 communist Laos. The main character is a 72-year-old physician (Dr. Siri) who is forced to become the national coroner when his only desire is to retire. He is given a basic concrete block building in which to work and ‘inherits’ two delightful assistants from the previous coroner. Dr. Siri believes he has lived past his natural life-expectancy so he has no fear of dying. This provides him with the ability to seek out truth and not to give in to bullying or fear-tactics.

This book was nominated for the Barry Award for Best First Novel in 2005. I am surprised it has not won any awards – it is a superb book written by a very talented author. I am looking forward to reading and reviewing the next in the series: Thirty-three Teeth.

h
htliang
Oct 28, 2014

This is a poignant, humorous, and unique murder mystery set in 1972 communist Laos. The main character is a 72-year-old physician (Dr. Siri) who is forced to become the national coroner when his only desire is to retire. He is given a basic concrete block building in which to work and ‘inherits’ two delightful assistants from the previous coroner. Dr. Siri believes he has lived past his natural life-expectancy so he has no fear of dying. This provides him with the ability to seek out truth and not to give in to bullying or fear-tactics.

This book was nominated for the Barry Award for Best First Novel in 2005. I am surprised it has not won any awards – it is a superb book written by a very talented author. I am looking forward to reading and reviewing the next in the series: Thirty-three Teeth.

c
carolannbagan
Mar 22, 2013

very funny book even if it is about a coroner in laos. it's still makes you laugh.

s
savtadina
Apr 19, 2012

Excellent read! The author writes descriptions of people, some scenery, that makes me clearly see what he is describing. I learned about Laos in the mid-1970s. The author also let up the mysteries extremely well with a lot of slow thoughtful parts and a lot happening at the end.

s
shapjul
Jan 22, 2012

This is the first in a series of mysteries set in Laos. That's not a country I know very much about. It's a delight to read--strong characters and good plotting. The author doesn't use long expository paragraphs but nevertheless creates a clear impression of the place. I suppose it is mostly atmospheric rather than truly literal, but I found it very vivid. I look forward to the rest in the series--there's a lot that is set up in the one that could develop further.

I read this after reading Killed At The Whim of A Hat, Cotterill's most recent novel. That one starts a different series (or maybe it is just freestanding.)

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