A Satisfying Meal

In my quest to read mysteries out of my comfort zone and on the recommendation of Andi, I picked up Colin Cotterill’s “The Coroner’s Lunch”.  This mystery is set in Laos the year after the end of a long civil war that resulted in a Soviet-backed communist government that is the backdrop for this mystery.  One of the most refreshing aspects of this book was reading about everyday life under the communist rule and how people made their lives bearable with small acts of personal rebellion.  Siri Paiboun, the main character, is the country’s only coroner and at 72 wants nothing more than a peaceful retirement.  Siri is joined by a wonderful, quirky staff-Drui, who reads outdated and banned gossip magazines and Mr. Geung, a man considered by many to be dumb, when in fact he is a high functioning Down’s Syndrome person.  Cotterill’s depiction of the relationship between these three main characters is one of the books’ strongest and most enjoyable points.

There are two main mysteries Siri is faced with solving-one is Mrs. Nitnoy, the wife of a high-ranking government official, who arrives at the morgue having died mysteriously while having lunch with friends and the other is the case of three men’s bodies that have been found at the bottom of the sea tied to heavy weights.  Siri is driven to solve both of these deaths at whatever cost to himself against formidable adversaries. Both mysteries are solved at the end of the book in a very satisfying way and left me wanting to read more about this exotic local and the coroner who sees the restless spirits of his clients.  If you have read and liked Alexander McCall Smith’s mysteries and liked them you might try Colin Cotterill’s series for a very satisfying meal.