fredag den 20. august 2010

Colin Cotterill, The Coroner´s Lunch (2004)

This novel, written by a British writer who lives in Thailand, is set in Laos, and it is the first in the series about Dr Siri Paiboun.

The book gives a strong sense of Communist Laos in 1976 and of the very intriguing character, Dr Siri. It grabbed me from the very first chapters because I had to know more about Dr Siri who begins his career as the State Coroner very reluctantly, but as all other doctors have fled, no one else is better qualified. He finds some French textbooks in the humble morgue and embarks on his new career though the just as inexperienced judge does not show much interest in his results. So Dr Siri does not have much left to hope for but retirement, the sooner the better.

But when he gets involved in two cases where someone apparently does not want him to get to the bottom of the causes of death, Dr Siri wakes up and shows what kind of person he really is. And this is also the point when he realizes that his assistants, the romantic nurse Dtui and Mr Geung who suffers from Down´s Syndrome, have hidden talents. So though the story is highly critical of the political system, it is very gentle and respectful towards the team who seem ailing and deficient on the surface. Perhaps it would have been impossible to unravel the rather unusual cases without the combined efforts of the unusual team, plus the aid of several spirits and an exorcist.

As if all these strong points were not enough, I enjoyed the style and the humour so much that I actually laughed out loud several times.

Here Dr Siri and Comrade Civilai from the politburo are eating their lunch sandwiches together:

He took a swig of his tea and handed the flask to Civilai. ´I don´t want to be cutting up bodies till the day I become one of them. I need this. I need to know when I can expect a replacement. When I can stop. God knows, I could keel over any second. What would you do then?´
´Eat the rest of your sandwich.´

This book is highly recommended for several reasons.

The book is a gift from Maxine, Petrona, and I read it for the 2010 Global Reading Challenge # 10 (Laos, Asia), and for the What´s in a Name Challenge # 5 (title).

If you need further recommendation, you can read Maxine´s review here.

10 kommentarer:

Anonym sagde ...

Dorte - What a terrific review! Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one as much as you did. I think for me, it really is the character of Dr. Siri as well as the humour that makes those books so memorable. Love that quote!

Kelly sagde ...

I love looking back and seeing how those who guessed correctly hinted at that in their comments on the bait post!

Dorte H sagde ...

Margot: I had read so many glowing reviews I knew it must be wonderful, but I had to pull myself together to read the first two or three pages. After that I was just hooked.

Kelly: some of my regulars are truly marvelous, not only at giving hints, but I am amazed how many books they remember!

Felicity Grace Terry sagde ...

Thanks for the recommendation. I was attracted to this book by the cover alone, then read your great review which seemed to confirm that it was a good read.

Dorte H sagde ...

Tracy: it is an extremely uplifting story, both for the characters and the great humour.

Karen Russell sagde ...

I bought a copy of this book while in London last month and am so glad you recommend it. I'll have to move it up a little higher in my stack after reading your review! I didn't expect it to be funny, so that's an added incentive.

Jose Ignacio Escribano sagde ...

Great review Dorte. I'm now even more interested in reading Dr. Siris' series. Thanks.

Dorte H sagde ...

Karen: it is really, really funny, but without being silly, and I feel I know the protagonist very well just after one book.

Jose: I recommend them warmly.

Bibliophile sagde ...

This one is on my To Be Read Soon list. Maybe I should nudge it up to the top :-)

Dorte H sagde ...

Bibliophile: you seem to be a reader who likes new experiences so I think you´ll appreciate this one.