The Coroner’s Lunch ~ by Colin Cotterill

I read this for the 4-Mystery Addicts Group.  I’d checked and it had a lot of good reviews and looked so promising. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too happy with my first reading but all those reviews ? –  Yes, it showed promise – kind of.  Maybe I’d missed a lot while thinking about too many other things.  I was almost ready to return it for my credit at Audible but I did a second reading instead.

The Coroner’s Lunch 
By Colin Cotterill
2004 / 272 pages
Read by Clive Chafer
(Dr Siri Palbourn series #1) 
rating B+ / mystery

It’s 1976 in Vientiane, Laos where the old Kingdom has just vanished and a new communist regime set up.  There, with the Mekong River on the west bordering Thailand, and the Ho Chi Min trail to the east bordering Vietnam, the 72-year old Dr Siri Paiboun has been recently appointed the official state coroner. He is the only doctor left in the country and a communist only by default.  That’s the way things are going there.

The body of the wife of an important Party leader shows up at Doctor Siri’s morgue. Following that, the largely decomposed bodies of a couple of old dead Vietnamese soldiers float to the surface of the river from their watery graves.  Siri has his work cut out for him,  but certain Party officials don’t seem to want him to do his job which is going to take a good deal more than carving up old cadavers.  This is going to take some active and intelligent sleuthing in different parts of the country.

Because this is the first book in a series there are a number of character introductions.  The good doctor has two other people in his office,  one is a young man with Down’s Syndrome but an incredible memory who acts as a kind of assistant while the other is an excellent nurse.

This is the first book in a 13-book series, so far. I believe there’s another one due out in August, 2019.  

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