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Disco for the Departed (Dr Siri Paiboun Mystery 3) Paperback – 2 Oct 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus; 1st edition (2 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847245854
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847245854
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 142,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Colin Cotterill made a considerable impression with his previous novel The Coroner's Lunch, a book that succeeded in being something entirely new in the crime fiction field. His protagonist, the elderly coroner, Dr Siri Paiboun, was something unusual in the genre: in his 70s, but still immensely sharp, struggling with his career in the 1970s as the only coroner in Laos, a country which is a hotbed of dishonesty and corruption.

That book won the author many friends, with favourable comparisons being made to the novels of Alexander McCall Smith (but always in Cotterill's favour – his narratives wear a darker hue than that of the more cosy world of McCall Smith). And here is Dr Siri again in the equally diverting Disco for the Departed, which is in fact, the third outing for one of the most entertaining crime protagonists around. Siri finds himself summoned to the mountains of Huaphan Province -- the very region where the totalitarian Communist rulers of the country hid from the authorities before their own accession to power. But as celebrations are underway for the ‘success’ of the new regime (which, of course, can do no wrong), a human arm is discovered sticking out of a concrete walk, which has been laid from the president's cave hideout to his splendid new home under the cliffs. Siri is handed the job of uncovering the arm (and the body to which it is attached) and identifying the corpse. His autopsy reveals that the body was buried alive, but in order to track down the killer, the elderly pathologist has to call on some of his supernatural skill (which readers will remember from the earlier books – and the one element of Cotterill’s work that some of his admirers have an ambiguous attitude towards). What Siri uncovers is a very rich brew of mysteries.

This is almost as entertaining as the previous novels in the series; Cotterill’s worthy protagonist is as intriguing as ever, as he tackles both government indifference and nasty killers. And it's hard to believe that even a more serious book on this subject could conjure up the country of Laos -- in all its beauty and corruption -- as strikingly as Cotterill does here. --Barry Forshaw. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

A wonderfully fresh and exotic mystery - New York Times Book Review (New York Times)

an embarrassment of riches: Holmesian sleuthing, political satire, and a droll comic study of a prickly late bloomer - Kirkus (starred review) (Kirkus)

The story is good, the characters interesting, the hero delightful and the setting fascinating: a find - Literary Review (Literary Review)

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Format: Hardcover
This third installment of the "Dr. Siri" series continues to document the adventures of the national coroner of newly Communist Laos. Set in 1977, the story opens with the elderly coroner and his sensible nurse sent to the remote town of Vieng Xai. Located in the northern Hua Phan province, the town is being built at the base of a vast cave system that served at the Pathet Lao headquarters during the struggle against the American-backed monarchy. Now, as it is being prepared to stage an important ceremony to mark a new friendship treaty with Vietnam, a very strange corpse has turned up. Since there is no police force to speak of, Dr. Siri is called in to make sense of it with all due haste.

The body turns out to be that of a Cuban attached to a nearby "advisory" unit. After establishing Dr. Siri's credentials as a spirit host/medium in the first two books, it comes as no surprise that this adventure finds him tangled up with the Caribbean spirit world of santeria. While the villain of this storyline, which involves a beautiful Vietnamese girl and doomed love, is rather obvious, there's still plenty to like. The history of the caves is fascinating, the corpses to be investigated very unusual, and the bureaucratic red tape both comic and instructive. Meanwhile, Nurse Dtui is given her own subplots, including a stint heading up a hospital treating mine victims, and an unexpected romantic proposal. Meanwhile, back in Vientiane, morgue assistant Mr. Geung is exiled to a northern work camp by a nefarious judge with an axe to grind with Dr. Siri. The determined Geung resolves to escape and make his way the hundreds of miles back, leading to adventures that are variously droll and deadly.

As in the two previous books. Dr.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The kind, possessed Lao coroner takes us through the post Vietnam war history of Laos. Written with such obvious affection for the people of Laos, this is a brilliant who-done-it with a spooky twist. Just magic.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am going through the Dr Siri books one by one.
Like most detective stories the plots are stretched, but the characters are so believable and such fun that it doesn't.t matter.
Also the Lao setting adds an extra layer of interest. Dr Siri was my bedtime reading discovery of the year.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I love this series of books about Dr Siri the reluctant patholodist in Communist Laos. He has a nurse and an assistant with Downs Syndrom who knows more about the lab than either Siri or the nurse.

Siri is just such a lovely character and the observations about the administration in Laos and the corruption are written so that you are aware of the reality yet can smile at the ridiculousness of it all.

The books remind me a bit of Alexander McColl Smith's No 1 lady detective in their great observation of people but thee have slightly grittier stories.

This is the 3rd in the series and I am working my way through them enjoying the stories and sharing Sir's world as I love the writing style and slightly tongue in cheek observations of life in Communist Laos.
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Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: Dr. Siri lay beneath the grimy mesh of the mosquito net watching the lizard's third attempt.

Dr. Siri and Dturi have been sent to a "guest house" at revolutionary headquarters in the mountains of Huaphan province to attend a seminar intended to provide them with an `enlightened" understanding of the Marxist-Leninist system. What they did not expect was for an arm to be discovered rising out of a concrete path. The arm was attached to the body of a man who'd been encased in the concrete while still alive. Siri also did not expect, at 73, to find himself dancing to disco music only he could hear, nor for the Russian to whom Siri and Dturi reported back in Vientiane to ship their mortuary assistant, Geung off to Xieng Ngeim without their knowing.

It is always a pleasure to be back with Dr. Siri and friends. They truly are some of my favorite characters and it was particularly nice to learn more of mortuary assistant Geung's background. Cotterill worked in an interesting point through Siri's friend, Dr. Santiago who believes in shamans and the spirit world, that some form of shamanism is common to most cultures of the world outside those of European origin. Points such as that remind us the world is one filled with diverse philosophies and beliefs beyond our own; one of the gifts of reading.

Cotterill's writing is filled with wonderful dialogue and humor, yet he also makes me think. Rather than the supernatural element being for the sake of fantasy, Cotteriall uses it to serious purpose--to make a point such as the impact of war on its innocent victims; those who just happen to live in the wrong place. He also makes us aware that bigotry exists in every country.

The story is one of relationships and loyalty.
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Format: Paperback
Disco for the Departed is the third book in the Dr Siri series. It is described on its cover as having `comic charm' and I wouldn't disagree. Whilst I only laughed out loud a couple of times, I found myself often smiling along to the story and its understated and sly wit. In Siri, Dtui and Mr Geung, Cotterill has fashioned three well drawn characters which are not only very likeable but wholly believable, and the supporting cast were also well depicted. The story is well crafted and plotted, rich in detail and insights, and snakes and twists to a satisfying end. In particular, Cotterill does a good job of setting out the history and geography of Laos in the 1970s without this contextual material swamping or detracting from the story. It is also to his credit that I never once questioned Siri's shaman abilities; instead I simply accepted it at face value that he could interact with the spirit world. All in all, Disco for the Departed was a very pleasant read and I look forward to reading more of Siri, Dtui and Mr Geung's adventures.
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