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Publisher's Summary

Three young Laotian women have died from fencingsword wounds. Each of them had studied abroad in an Eastern bloc country. Before he can complete his investigation, Dr. Siri is lured to Cambodia by an allexpensespaid trip. Accused of spying for the Vietnamese, he is imprisoned, beaten, and threatened with death. The Khmer Rouge is relentless, and it is touch and go for the dauntless, 74-year-old national—and only—coroner of Laos.

Crack another case with Dr. Siri.
©2010 Colin Cotterill (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Superb…A strong supporting cast…This immensely satisfying mystery has it all—a heroic protagonist, a challenging puzzle, and an exotic setting.” (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jan
  • United States
  • 07-08-17

It's not all fiction

serial-killer, madness, murder-investigation, Khymer-Rouge, historical-fiction, historical-places-events, history-and-culture, verbal-humor, Indo-China

Once again, there are convoluted converging plots here. The investigation into a series of homicides committed daily x 3 with a weapon incongruous to Indochina is further complicated by the varied communists from Russia, China, and Vietnam. The other part is a cautionary tale in the guise of Dr Siri's experiences in Cambodia during the bloodbath that was the Khymer Rouge. If you are too young to remember and are lucky enough not to have lost anyone during this horror, I do assure you that it was at least as horrific as depicted in this book. Despite that, the detective fiction aspect was excellent!
I commend narrator Clive Chafer for being able to perform the gruesome aspects with a reasonably unemotional voice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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Mystery and politics are truly combined

I was enchanted by the combination of a complex murder mystery with upsetting yet fascinating history of Cambodia and Laos. The almost dream like wanderings of Dr. Siri psi boon through the Kampuchean killing fields situation was gripping and illuminating. Of course I love Madame getting who always reminds me of characters played by Judy Dench.

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  • Doug
  • Colorado
  • 04-25-17

Love Dr Siri and his Wonderful Crew

You always get two stories for the price of one. Dr Siri and his family of unique characters never fail to engage and amuse each other, Dr Siri and the reader. And Dr Siri's special perception of the ghosts of the newly dead allow the author to bring the Laotian people to life. Another satisfying encounter with the state of the world of Laos in the 70's.

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  • Story

This series continues to get more disturbing

If you could sum up Love Songs from a Shallow Grave in three words, what would they be?

whistling at demons

What other book might you compare Love Songs from a Shallow Grave to and why?

Earlier books in the series

What about Clive Chafer’s performance did you like?

He's quite subtle. He felt a bit deadpan until I got sufficiently tuned in to his style, then I realized how rich his performance is.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Like the Merry Misogynist, some of the imagery in this book is really grim. Doc Siri and his gang continue to charm. I found the plot believable and gripping.

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Horrible Narration, engrosing story

Would you try another book from Colin Cotterill and/or Clive Chafer?

The flat, almost expressionless narration of this book caused me to take months to finish listening to it. I liked the story and the characters but the narration put me to sleep and I just wanted to fast forward somehow or get some humanity in it somehow. I would read or listen to another of Colin Cotterill Dr. Siri books maybe for the story, but I would be reluctant to pay for a download of another without sampling the narration first.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

There were many wonderful turns of phrase and the story kept me going - otherwise I would have quit listening.

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  • Cynthia
  • Monrovia, California, United States
  • 12-14-14

"There's Always Someone Worse Off Than You . . ."

Unless you're Cambodian" Dr. Siri Paiboun, 1979.

Collin Cotterill's 2011 "Love Songs from a Shallow Grave: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 7" (2011) is the most overtly political and the most plain scary of Cotterill's series to date. In the first two minutes, we learn that founding Lao communist party member and National Coroner Dr. Siri is being held someplace terrible and terrifying. He's been tortured, and people around him are dying. Siri hosts the 1000 year-old spirit Ya Ming, the dead crowd into his prison cell with him. The amulet that protected him from vicious demons has been stripped, and Siri is truly in mortal danger.

I wasn't able to pinpoint the genre of Cotterill's first six books, so I did some research, and unhelpfully came up with the category "mixed genre." Those books are a combination of amateur sleuth, police procedural and South East Asian historical mystery. Okay, I make up the last category to distinguish it from 'historical' which usually seems to refer in Amazon-land to European or American history.

"Love Songs" takes a literary turn outside of any mystery genre. The present parallels the recent past, alternating between Siri's impending death and a few weeks earlier, when he helped draft his own obituary for consideration as a Lao National Hero. It's a challenge to listen to a book written that way because there isn't a way to know immediately what time frame the story is in as it's narrated. Cotterill doesn't always follow the convention of alternating the times past-present-past-present. The story itself doesn't need the ridged framework, but it would have helped the audio narration. Cotterill's writing tends to the sardonic, but he sets aside the Siri's usual amusing cynicism to starkly present Cambodia under Pol Pot and the Khemer Rouge. It's eerily like what is known about North Korea under the Kim-Jong rulers.

This isn't Cotterill's usual "solve-a-mystery while learning about an exotic land" fare, but still your stomach and listen all the same.

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4 of 9 people found this review helpful