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The Coroner's Lunch

Cotterill, Colin (Book - 2004)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Coroner's Lunch
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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.
Authors: Cotterill, Colin
Title: The coroner's lunch
Publisher: New York : Soho Press, 2004
Characteristics: iii, 257 p. ;,20 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Colin Cotterill
Summary: 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.
ISBN: 1569473765
9781569473764
9781569474181
1569474184
Branch Call Number: MYSTERY COTTERILL 2004
Subject Headings: Older people Fiction Physicians Fiction Coroners Fiction Paiboun, Siri, Doctor (Fictitious character) Fiction Hmong (Asian people) Fiction Laos Fiction Mystery fiction. gsafd
Genre/Form: Historical fiction
Mystery fiction
Topical Term: Older people
Physicians
Coroners
Paiboun, Siri, Doctor (Fictitious character)
Hmong (Asian people)
Mystery fiction
LCCN: 2004048191
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Dr. Siri Paiboun, a Paris-trained doctor has been 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 and at his age he is not about to let a bunch of ignorant bureaucrats dictate to ... Read More »

Cotterill introduces the reader to Laos through the eyes of an aged coroner who is called upon to become an investigator.

"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)


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Oct 28, 2014
  • Helen100 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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.

Oct 28, 2014
  • htliang rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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.

Mar 22, 2013
  • carolannbagan rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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

Apr 19, 2012
  • savtadina rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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.

Jan 22, 2012
  • shapjul rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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.)

Oct 31, 2010
  • dentarthurdent rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

First in a series of mysteries featuring a healthy dose of humor and an intriguing peek into the culture of Laos, along with a cast of very engaging characters.

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