Colin Cotterill: The Coroner’s Lunch
Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc (November 2010)
About the author: Colin Cotterill was born in London in 1952. He is a teacher and passionate traveller and has lived and worked in Israel, Japan and Australia. He now lives in Thailand with his family where he focuses on his other big passion: writing. His Dr Siri books are set in Laos.
About the books: Laos in 1976. The country is no longer a monarchy, the communist Pathet Lao have taken over and the well-trained and educated people are leaving the country. So at 72 years of age, Dr Siri Paraboun’s life is taking an unexpected turn when he is appointed the country’s new (and only) coroner. Dr Siri is neither a coroner nor does he he have any experience, but he is a doctor who was educated in Paris and there is no one else left to do the job. Even though he does not really want to do the job, who is he to say no? And so he soon finds himself performing his first autopsy with the help of one of his old textbooks from 1948.
Crime fiction is by far my favourite genre. I’m always on the lookout for new authors to fill my bookshelves. So being the wanderlusty reader that I am, I was instantly hooked when I stumbled upon Colin Cotterill’s books in my local book shop. Crime fiction set in Laos in 1976 with an untrained 72 year-old coroner? Hell yeah, that sounds like it could be right up my alley! And the books did not diappoint me. Quite the opposite.
Dr Siri is a quirky, intelligent character who may not be a devoted communist (quite the opposite, really), but who’s still got some friends in the right places. And he is not afraid to always speak his mind in a very clear way. He goes about things with a lot of passion, he’s witty and always speaks for those who are too weak. Colin Cotterill’s books have got everything a good cime novel needs: classic who-dunnits that make you think of the golden age of crime fiction, thought-through characters and an unusual and interesting setting that immediately triggers your Fernweh and Wanderlust (oh bless those beautiful German words!) and makes you want to learn more about Laos and its rich history. And here’s your cherry on the icing: The books are also hilariously funny.
Two thumbs up, five of five stars, a must-read.