The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill

About the book

Laos, 1976. The monarchy has been deposed, the Communist Pathet Lao have taken over. Most of the educated class has fled, but Dr Siri Paiboun, a Paris-trained doctor remains. And so this 72-year-old physician is appointed state coroner, despite having no training, equipment, experience or even inclination for the job. But the job’s not that bad and Siri quickly settles into a routine of studying outdated medical texts, scrounging scarce supplies, and circumnavigating bureaucratic red tape to arrive at justice. The fact that the recently departed are prone to pay Siri the odd, unwanted nocturnal visit turns out to be an added bonus in his new line of work. But when the wife of a party leader turns up dead and the bodies of tortured Vietnamese soldiers start bobbing to the surface of a Laotian lake, all eyes turn to Siri. Faced with official cover-ups and an emerging international crisis, the doctor enlists old friends, village shamans,forest spirits, dream visits from the dead – and even the occasional bit of medical deduction – to solve the crimes.

Reviewed by CC Readers:

Generally enjoyed, good writing and humour. Plot caused confusion in the middle section and – readers began to lose the plot. – literally! It caused people to learn about an area of the world not much known to us.

Star rating: ***

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5 thoughts on “The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill”

  1. Review by Wallington Village Reading Group:
    A murder mystery with a difference. Loved the warped sense of humour. Gentle humour, laughed out loud. Developed characters. Far removed from the typical English detective. Similar in a way to the ‘No 1 Ladies Detective Agency’. Some red herrings. Was it written to become a film? Easy to read. Liked the characters healthy disregard for the state. Not liked by one member ‘not my sort of book’.
    Star rating: ***

  2. Review by Museum Book Group:
    A surprising book. We very much enjoyed a good ‘who done it’ with a twist. Set in Laos, it has a good plot, wonderful characters who are truly believable. It has a dark side with tribal beliefs but is also very funny. We will read more.
    Star rating: ****

  3. Review by The Benches Reading Group:
    This is the first time in over 4 years that we have all agreed about our read! A convincing, sympathetic portrait of a man and his circle of friends and their lives in communist Laos. Easy to read, although for some of us, the “tribal spirit” section seemed unnecessary. Unpretentious but with a political situation. A lovely “summer read”… A winning first novel by Colin Cotterill. Whetted the appetite for more by the author.
    Star rating: ***

  4. Review by Basingstoke Afternoon WI
    Very enjoyable read; made a grim subject very humerous. Likeable main character. Interesting and informative about laws and politics. Wonderful book, agreed by all.
    Rating: ****

  5. Review by Stubbington Bookends
    We all enjoyed the main character Dr Siri. It gets quite confusing with all the mystical content, but a good story and interestingly set with a different character.
    Star rating : ** to ***

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