Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Coroner's Lunch - Colin Cotterill (Dr. Siri #1) (LAOS)

In 2006, I traveled to a number of countries in Southeast Asia. My favorite, by far, was Laos. Given how small the country is, I guess it never occurred to me that someone might think to set an entire series of detective stories there. But, it really is a perfect location - it's beautiful and unassuming. The people are polite and perfect for hiding secrets. It is a place that is all at one time straighforward and shrouded in mystery. The Coroner's Lunch is the first in a series that currently features 7 books. Dr. Siri, the coroner in the title, is a 70+ former physician who found his retirement derailed when the communist government forced him to earn his keep while he was still able. Completely untrained as a coroner, it's clear that the powers that be would prefer that he simply rubber-stamp the bodies coming through his morgue. Instead, with the help of his two assistants, one female and the other who is mildly mentally retarded, Dr. Siri is committed to going against authority and exposing the truth. As a character, I grew very found of Dr. Siri - he doesn't care what anyone thinks of him, and he without even trying to be, he is charming and quite endearing. The murders he investigated were not in and of themselves particularly intriguing, but they were interesting enough, and I thought the author did a great job setting up the various characters who I assume will continue to make appearances throughout the series. While I am not planning to rush out and get the rest of the books in the series, I do look forward to returning to Laos to visit Dr. Siri in the near future.

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