A friend recommended "The Coroner's Lunch" as the start of a series I might be interested in. I'm glad she did, otherwise the idea of a 72 year old co..Show More »roner in Laos in 1975, immediately after the communist revolution, would not have struck me as my sort of thing and I would have missed out on meeting Dr. Siri Paibo, one of the most interesting characters I've encountered in crime fiction.
Siri is a reluctant, and initially not very competent, coroner; appointed as a "reward" for services to his country but feeling as if he is somehow being punished instead.
He becomes the centre of political intrigues, murders, and hauntings, which he approaches with a unique mix of scientific method and irrational (but compelling) superstition,
Siri is a man who has lost most things except his (sometimes wildly inappropriate) sense of humour and his desire to find the truth. He is a brave man who does not believe himself a hero. He inspires strong emotions in others (they either want to kill him, marry him, worship him or learn from him) because he sees beyond the idea to the person and within the person to their spirit.
Parts of the book are gruesome, in a non-exploitive way, and parts, like his conversation with some recently orphaned children are truly moving without being maudlin or melodramatic. What holds it together is Siri sense of honour and common humanity.
Of course, there are also some good puzzles. at least three of them in fact, that kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next but mostly I wanted to know more about Dr. Siri.
The denouement of one of the plots is explained in a slightly clumsy way by a conversation between two characters who have previously only appeared in conversation with Siri but that is a small fault.
Most of the time Gareth Armstrong did a superb job of creating Siri and the characters around him but there were occasional stumbles over stress and even meaning which the producer should have caught and fixed.
I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. "Bad Teeth" is already on my iPod.
I love this series. Each book stands alone, but you'd be best advised to start at the beginning, not here, with book three. Unfortunately, the first, ..Show More »"The Coroner's Lunch," is currently unavailable at Audible. What up with that? I've got it in my Audible library. If I could just give it to everyone, I would.
These stories take place three decades after the communist takeover in Laos, after the disaster of the Vietnam War created the problem it was designed to prevent - the spread of an obsolete and cruel ideology. Operating within it is the wonderful Dr. Siri. He knows communism is a failure, but he does his elderly best to be a good man in a bad system. The writing is wonderful, and the stories - all mysteries - are complex, funny and life affirming. They've made me love Laos and its people.
I'm SO looking forward to adding more of these gems to my audio library. Something interesting was always happening, and the sense of humor really ap..Show More »pealed to me as well. Very entertaining.
Cotterill has created intriguing and original characters, set them in 1970s Laos, and given them fresh and fascinating stories. Slash and Burn is the ..Show More »eighth in the series and it doesn't disappoint.
Dr Siri is still recovering from his harrowing experiences in Love Songs from a Shallow Grave when he finds himself sent out of Vientiane on a joint Lao-American mission to find either a missing American airman or his remains. Dr. Siri manages to involve his entire entourage in this case and, as usual, the book offers humor, history, adventure, mystery and character development in nearly equal measures -- as well as some irreverent social observations.
If you haven't read a Dr. Siri book yet start with The Coroners Lunch now. There are eight books in the series and you won't stop until you've read all eight. Lucky you! There's a great adventure ahead of you.