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VINE VOICEon 25 April 2012
Colin Cotterills Dr Siri Paiboun is a fascinating character and I am happily working my way through the series.
A sprightly old man whose body carries the spirit of an ancient shaman, he sees dead bodies both figuratively and literally as he is Laos chief, and only coroner.
His repartee with his friends and colleagues and his relationship with his new wife are all so believable. Though their work is not very pleasant, Dr Siri's impish behaviour always lightens the mood.
It makes for light but enjoyable reading and I have the next one bought already.
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on 6 May 2017
Dr Siri you've captured my imagination and heart. Please be careful, we want to hear more of your Maigret-esque escapades
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on 22 June 2017
Many thanks
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on 13 February 2010
Dr Siri, newly married to Madame Daeng, is in trouble with the Laotian bureaucracy over his living arrangements: he is apparently not living in the accommodation assigned to him by the government. At the same time as zealous officials are investigating this, he is called on to examine the body of a beautiful young woman from the remote hill country. An examination of her body reveals that she was strangled - a very uncommon method of murder in Laos - and then he discovers that this murder is not the first.

Dr Siri is distracted as well by the disappearance of Crazy Rajid. How do you begin to track an itinerant mute? Rajid has left a trail of elaborate clues which may assist, but time is of the essence. And, of course, the housing problem needs to be addressed or the people Dr Siri allows to stay in his government-allocated accommodation will be homeless.

Despite these distractions, Dr Siri and his intrepid gang (including Nurse Dtui, Madame Gaeng, Phosy, Civilai and Mr Geung) are all focussed on trying to identify the serial killer who is wooing and wedding - and then killing - young country girls.

This is the sixth in the Dr Siri series, and is simply wonderful. I read it in one day because I simply couldn't put it down. There was less of the supernatural element in this novel, which I found made it easier to focus on the story itself. It seems, too, that Dr Siri is rejuvenated by his marriage and may well continue to be Laos's reluctant national coroner for some time. I hope so.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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VINE VOICEon 24 July 2009
Another excellent instalment in the series which started with "The Coroners Lunch".
In this one, we have two mysteries, a missing friend (sort of friend) and a psychotic serial killer. To be perfectly honest, I do not read Colin's books for the structure of the mystery itself. I read them for their delightful characters, the languid setting, the picture he draws so well of a conflicted land where you constantly have to make compromises in order to survive. And of course that wonderful polyester clad world of the Comintern and socialist brotherhood. The Pathet Lao are rather inept and unsophisticated oppressors, but still dangerous. You have to watch what you say and where you go, otherwise you'll end up in a re-education camp. You always have a choice of taking your chances in the refugee camps in Thailand, just across the river. Or you can try your luck surviving in the Socialist regime and dream of going to Eastern Europe.
If you're new to the series start from the first book.
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This is book six in Colin Cotterill's series of mysteries set in Laos. It isn't essential to start this series with book 1, but as the characters grow and develop through the series and past adventures are referenced, it is probably the best place to start.
One of the best things about these books is the real sense of place and the insight into Lao life and culture. For anyone who has visited Laos the books are a real treat as all the places mentioned exist exactly where the book places them, so you can follow Dr Sri as he travels around town solving the murders and getting into tight scrapes.
I love this series of books. These are a meatier read than the no1 Ladies Detective series, but in the same vein. Well rounded and amusing characters, but put into positions of real peril.
I suggest you start reading this series with "The Coroners Lunch", which sets the scene perfectly.
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Author Colin Cotterill's highly original Dr. Siri Paiboun series takes the reader to Laos of the 1970s, where an exhausted population is trying to restart normal life after an long civil war that has brought an ill-equipped Communist Party to power. Siri Paiboun is a physician who spent the war years with the Communist side operating hospitals out of caves and forests. The new government has made him the country's National Coroner. In the that position, the aging and more than slightly politically disillusioned doctor has become a criminal investigator--largely because dead bodies keep arriving at his morgue under the strangest of circumstances.

In the latest installment of this wonderfully inventive crime saga, Dr. Siri, joined by his new wife, Madame Daeng, and other colorful colleagues, resolves to solve the murder of beautiful young woman that eventually proves to be the the work of a serial killer. At the same time Siri has other problems to resolve which include the disappearance of a brilliant homeless man and bureaucratic harassment over the motley population living in his officially allotted villa.

The murder investigation is as tightly written and original as any you will find in modern mystery writing and leads to an "ah ha" moment that you do not see coming. The trail to denouement is extremely clever and respects the reader's intelligence all the way. But the best part of this book--and its precedessors--is the presentation of the characters who are uniformly well developed and interesting. There is great wit and compassion in these stories and rarely a false note in their telling.

I haven't read all of the Siri stories yet, but enough to discern a growing strength in Colin Cotterill's writing skills that makes me hanker for the next book in the series. It is bound to be a good one.
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on 28 May 2011
It was a joy to see that CC is back to his true story-telling form with this latest in the Dr Siri series. An intriguing storyline - serial killer no less - well executed with some tremendous side tales to tell. After the Curse of the Pogo Stick I feared the author may have exhautsed this rich seam, but no there's obviously plenty of life left in our old coroner.
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on 23 August 2010
Excellent. A bit more 'killer thriller' than usual but the humour and great story telling is as good as ever.
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on 15 December 2010
I read this book in two sittings, I could not force myself to make it stretch any longer. Despite the gruesome serial killings which are the theme of the book, the mild humour relentlessly pours on. Very enjoyable, like a bowl of hot soup on a cold wet day.
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