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Publisher's Summary

Laos, 1972. The Communist Pathet Lao has taken over. Most of the educated class has fled, but 72-year-old Dr Siri Paiboun, a Paris-trained doctor, remains and is appointed state coroner. When three bodies are recovered from a reservoir, Dr.Siri establishes the cause of death was not drowning - they seem to have been electrocuted. And then there is the inexplicable death of a Party bigwig's wife at a banquet. Dr.Siri doesn't think her death was from natural causes. In the course of his investigations, he travels to his birthplace, where he makes a discovery....

©2007 Colin Cotterill (P)2011 Oakhill Publishing Ltd

Critic Reviews

"[T]his debut mystery, with its convincing and highly interesting portrayal of an exotic locale, marks the author as someone to watch." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about The Coroners Lunch

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Could have been set in Pinner

Very weak story. Nothing very much about Laos: that's the most disappointing aspect. I wouldn't recommend it. Sorry, but not sorry.

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Different culture with an intriguing story

I really enjoyed this novel. The reader is easy to listen to and doesn’t do any hard to bear accents. The setting is different than any I’ve ever read and the difference is enlightening as well as making the story all the more interesting. There is a surprising spiritual element to it that I found was incorporated nicely into the story where a strict but fairly loosely managed regime is the order. I liked how the characters were likeable, fitted together and carried themselves without any authorial judgement but that good is better than evil with a hint of wry. Nicely done! Looking forward to further instalments.

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  • Mike
  • 08-11-2013

Original, exotic but convincing crime story

A friend recommended "The Coroner's Lunch" as the start of a series I might be interested in. I'm glad she did, otherwise the idea of a 72 year old coroner in Laos in 1975, immediately after the communist revolution, would not have struck me as my sort of thing and I would have missed out on meeting Dr. Siri Paibo, one of the most interesting characters I've encountered in crime fiction.

Siri is a reluctant, and initially not very competent, coroner; appointed as a "reward" for services to his country but feeling as if he is somehow being punished instead.

He becomes the centre of political intrigues, murders, and hauntings, which he approaches with a unique mix of scientific method and irrational (but compelling) superstition,

Siri is a man who has lost most things except his (sometimes wildly inappropriate) sense of humour and his desire to find the truth. He is a brave man who does not believe himself a hero. He inspires strong emotions in others (they either want to kill him, marry him, worship him or learn from him) because he sees beyond the idea to the person and within the person to their spirit.

Parts of the book are gruesome, in a non-exploitive way, and parts, like his conversation with some recently orphaned children are truly moving without being maudlin or melodramatic. What holds it together is Siri sense of honour and common humanity.

Of course, there are also some good puzzles. at least three of them in fact, that kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next but mostly I wanted to know more about Dr. Siri.

The denouement of one of the plots is explained in a slightly clumsy way by a conversation between two characters who have previously only appeared in conversation with Siri but that is a small fault.

Most of the time Gareth Armstrong did a superb job of creating Siri and the characters around him but there were occasional stumbles over stress and even meaning which the producer should have caught and fixed.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. "Bad Teeth" is already on my iPod.

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  • Danielle
  • 18-09-2018

What’s with the narrator?

This is a great story... however, I’m making my third attempt to listen to the whole story, having aborted the last two attempts due to the awfulness of the narrator. He seems to think that he’s reading a Monty python sketch to a group of learning impaired four year olds. He gives the Laotian characters cockney accents. He can’t pronounce the Vietnamese names. He can’t even pronounce the name of the country that the novel is set in. He has obviously not even put in twenty minutes on Wikipedia to research the part of the world that the story is set in, and totally fails at every aspect of his job as narrator.
It is such a shame for such a great book to be ruined by such a piss poor performance.

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  • david
  • 14-03-2017

not my usual

i was given this book and plesantly supprised. once i got in to the story i really enjoyed it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Londoner
  • 06-11-2012

Worth a try

Came across this by accident, and enjoyed. Well read by GA, although the Viet voices sounded decidedly scottish. Laos is a place that I had not thought off, except as a footnote to the US / Vietnam situation, and I found the novel thought provoking in regard to the idealogical transfer of power to a communist state. I will try more by this author.

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  • Audible customer
  • 28-07-2017

I'm not sure when or why I bought this book but...

On the face of it, this is not the sort of book that I would normally buy sonI was surprised to find it in my library.

I started to listen to try to remember what had induced me to buy, certainly the write up did not suggest I would be interested.

Once I stated however I really enjoyed it. The characters were interesting and their interactions realistic. I loved the dry wit and verbal interplay and this made up for the less believable elements of the story.

In all I found it a charming book and an enjoyable read.

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  • Mr
  • 15-05-2016

Not what you're expecting!

Set in Laos during their time as a communist nation, the main character is forced to move from being a surgeon to being a coroner. Reluctant, he has little choice. However, what makes it worse is when he starts being visited by the dead in the night. This magic realism is then coupled with a thriller type crime plot when some dead Vietnamese bodies turn up who seem to have been tortured by the Laos state. Unexpected and enjoyable!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs. K. I. Richards
  • 03-09-2015

laos 1972

Any additional comments?

dr siri having spent his life healing the sick finds himself at the age of 72 filling the post of coroner dealing with dead people in more ways than one.<br/.
well written with good characterisation and superbly performed by gareth armston I really enjoyed this first book in the series. the humour added to the enjoyment.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Denise
  • 12-09-2013

Lovely!

Funny, varied, well read, a great story line.

I really enjoyed this book.

Its a little unusual, but brilliant all the same.

2 people found this helpful

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  • R. Shields
  • 12-05-2020

Bravo! Breath of fresh air!

How refreshing to have something original and new. Crime fiction has mushroomed but so much of it is so similar. This is an exotic setting with a delightfully mature protagonist with a history and much wisdom to bring to bear, and with gentle humour. Talented writer so no need for gratuitous violence which mars so many within this genre. The narrator is superb at bringing this story to life.So delighted to have a new literary friend spend time with. No wonder his audience rating is so high on Amazon and he is up for so many book awards.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Pendrian
  • 20-07-2016

Very interesting and different

I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in different cultures and likes a good detective come ghost story. I really liked the characters, too often in a book characters are two dimensional not in this one. I will listen to it again as I am sure I missed some nuances the first time round

1 person found this helpful

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