Cotterill, Colin. The Coroner’s Lunch. New York: SoHo Press, 2004.
Reason read: Laos Rocket Day is in May. Coroner’s Lunch takes place in Laos.
This was one of those books where the plot steals you away. You sit down to read and before you know it your lunch break is over, your coffee is cold and a hundred pages have flown by before your eyes. It’s a fun read.
The year is October 1976 and Dr. Siri Paiboun is a reluctant chief police coroner for the Republic in Laos. He didn’t want the job. At 72 years old, he was ready to be a gardening, reading, coffee and brandy drinking retired physician. He lacked the qualifications to be a coroner, had next to no on-the-job training with dead people (in theory, as a physician he tried to avoid the dead at all cost) and truly lacked enthusiasm for the job entirely. Yet, when bodies suddenly start popping up with suspicious causes of death, with the help of few slightly charred textbooks from 1948, some ghosts, and his sidekicks, a Downs Syndrome technician and a dowdy nurse, Siri slowly embraces the role of detective/coroner. Complicating matters is the Communist Pathet Lao party. They want Siri to report on these deaths in only one way – natural causes. But thanks to Siri’s disregard for authority and his sly sense of humor he only wants one thing – the truth.
Yes, there is a paranormal element to The Coroner’s Lunch but it works. Everything about this book works. In fact. I read it in one day.
Author fact: Cotterill has one of the best websites I have seen in a long time here. I knew I would love it as soon as saw the “nose” joke. You’ll get it when you visit the site, so GO!
Book trivia: I got really excited when I read S.J. Rozen’s review of The Coroner’s Lunch because Cotterill was compared to Alexander McCall Smith, another favorite author.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter simply called, “Laos” (p 128).