Book Review: The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill



I hadn't heard of Colin Cotterill, prior to a recent visit to The Elliot Bay Book Co. in Seattle. The author's latest mystery, Disco for the Departed, was prominently displayed as a Seattle favorite. I'm glad the author is someone's favorite, or I'd likely never have heard his name.

Cotterill's sleuth is Dr. Siri Paiboun, an elderly state coroner, in '70s communist Laos. Siri is a South East Asian Quincy, both grumpy and quick witted. The difference is the presence of supernatural events and spirituality, and that this coroner has no formal training in pathology. Autopsies are performed with an open textbook.

Cotterill combines three mysteries into one congruent jigsaw puzzle. The murder of a ranked officer's wife, leads to the bodies of three torture victims, found in a lake. Along the way there are seances and suicides, beaurocracy and bombings.

The Coroner's Lunch is likely considered a "cozy" mystery as most violence and death occurs outside of the narrative. Cotterill does a good job creating a vivid Vientiane city and his characters are fleshy and welcoming. Not a challenging read but perfect for fireside entertainment. I will happily pick up the next novel in the series.

Next book: Lisey's Story by Stephen King

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