November 5th – The Coroner’s Lunch

I’m in a weird place where every book I pick up fails to grab me. I’ve tossed aside two this week, both of which came highly recommended. I’m sure it’s me. Or the lost hour. Or the darkness. Or the 7000 pieces of Halloween candy I’ve consumed since Saturday.

In any case, while flailing around for something new I stumbled upon a new entry in one of my favorite series. Talk about thrilled! The book, Six and a Half Deadly Sins, by Colin Cotterill, is number ten in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series. I love these books. Seriously. When I discovered that the author, a Londoner, lives in a thatched bungalow on a beach in Thailand with his wife, his laptop and six deranged dogs (his words), I loved the books even more. Although maybe that was jealousy? Not that I want anything to do with deranged dogs….

It is 1970s era Laos and Dr. Siri Paiboun, also in his seventies, is appointed National Coroner. He’s not a pathologist and longs for retirement but in newly communist Laos The Party comes first. In the morgue, Dr. Siri is surrounded by a collection of misfits, all of whom use caustic wit to stay sane in the face of  incompetent bosses, zero funding, terribly antiquated equipment and a paranoid and illogical regime.

In the first installment, The Coroner’s Lunch, the wife of a prominent politician turns up dead and Dr. Siri is convinced she’s been murdered. But getting to the truth won’t be easy. Siri and his co-workers will face government secrets, spying neighbors, victim hauntings, Hmong shamans, botched romances, and other dangers all while struggling not to let the investigation upset The Party. This is not work for the faint of heart.

Cotterill’s wicked, wry dialog is delightful as is his ability to weave together the tragedy and beauty of Laos in a turbulent decade. He deftly combines mystery, political commentary and humor in a tidy little package. I always come away from these books feeling as if I’ve traveled somewhere very far away. I encourage you to start at the beginning. You won’t regret it.

Have a great weekend!

Beth

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