I forced myself to read this book by offering it in a swap. Why or why did I wait so long! I love Dr. Siri Paiboun. Although he has lived for 72 years, he is neither old nor crotchety. He rightfully feels his age with a sense of humor about his position and his time in history.
I've spent a lot of time on his age and humor which carries the book through to the end. The story and mystery are equally engrossing. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series and hope there are more to come.
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Not only did the author create charming characters in a most unusual setting, but he also wrote a marvelous mystery. I have now read several more in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series, and they continue to be of the very best quality. I rank this author in my all-time top ten.
Dr. Siri is funny, smart, charming, and utterly lacking in pretense. He, his curious assembly of friends and associates, and his adventures as the new coroner, make for entertaining reading. The Laotian setting was colorful and unusual; I learned a bit, and recalled things I already knew, about the history and cultures of the region.
However, the multiple story lines sometimes became too tangled and unclear, and the pacing was wildly uneven. I had a hard time becoming interested in complex Laotian political intrigues at the onset of the Communist era. Most critically, I thought the supernatural aspects of the tale (culturally accurate or not) were vastly overplayed, to the point of undermining the believability of the character.
I did like Dr. Siri, so I may try the next book in the series, but probably won't continue after that
Excellent read. Engrossing with subtle humor and a historical bent. Went to order the rest of the series only to find there is a waiting list even though some of his books have been out for more than 10 years.
If you haven't read any of Siri Paiboun books, and if you have a good sense of humor, and if you like the championing of the human spirit, read The Coroner's Lunch. I was so pleasantly surprised- altho' I expected an interesting book, I had no idea how much I would enjoy it.
If you're looking for something a little different in the mystery genre, try this! Interesting locale, great characters and an intriguing mystery make this a good book.
This novel takes place in 1976 in Laos. The royal family has been deposed, the professional classes have fled and the communists have taken over, and Dr. Siri Paiboun has just been appointed state coroner for the Laos People's Democratic Republic. The 72-year-old Siri has got the coroner's job because he's the only doctor left in Laos. But when the wife of a Party leader is found dead and the bodies of tortured Vietnamese soldiers surface on a Laotian lake, all eyes turn to the new coroner and his small staff to figure things out. Siri looks to old friends, consults tribal shamans, and uses forensic deduction to figure out what's going on.
Colin Cotterill brings Laos alive in this series. We walk dirty streets and wonder about how clean the street vendors keep their hands and do they always use fresh food? And what exactly is the meat they use? But since Dr Siri Paiboun never dies of what he eats from those side street vendors, we must assume that either he is immune to dirt or it's OK enough to eat.
He is far too old to have been called into the coroner job, but one just doesn't say no, in this new democracy that looks an awful lot like the old Communist regime. He has the temerity to employ a woman (!) in the morgue, and a retarded person too! That second one, the fellow does bring him much criticism from his much younger and utterly stupid supervisor, but his heart is the size of Laos and he lets it run off and does not fire his female employee or his retarded one. They are like family to him and he will not have them mistreated. (Incidentally, I know that word is politically incorrect, but it isn't, in Fr. Siri's Laos and I take it from the book.)
He has to solve the crimes that bring battered bodies to him. He is most surely not going to tell anyone about the ... um ... ghosts that help him. They think he's a crazy old coot already; ghosts are not a topic of discussion.
This book is FUNNY! You will laugh until tears stand in your eyes. You will shake your head at the fools who think they supervise the good doctor. You will find in him some elderly man you have loved. You will identify with him and cheer him on even when his circumstances in the book lend no hope for good cheer. And then it will all turn around again, and you'll laugh until your sides hurt and at some point, you'll start to wonder about the man who created Dr. Siri. Do look him up. He's pretty interesting himself.