The Coroner's Lunch
With the country in the midst of relearning the tenets of Communism, the French educated physician, Dr. Siri Paiboun had been annointed chief coroner of the country. The cynical and acerbic septagenarium Dr. Siri, who holds no great regards for political red tape, conducts his business in the morgue located in Vientiane. Assisted by nurse Dtui and mildly retarded morgue assistant Geung, their lack of activitity is suddenly modified when the haughty wife of a high ranking politician is brought in for an autopsy. Questions begin to arise when poisoning is suspected.

Soon thereafter a group of three waterlogged corpses of Vietnamese officials are brought to the morgue with indications of torture as the cause of death. The fragile relations between Vietnam and Laos are in jeopardy as a result of this discovery and Dr. Siri commences investigating both peculiar scenarios. 

Dr. Siri has political connections through an old friend Civilai which gives him leeway in his inquests. Aided by his two assistants he also recruits a sympathetic police inspector Phosy and Vietnamese coroner Dr. Nguyen Hong to navigate his way through these mysteries. Siri, has been endowed with the ability to foretell through his dreams. His spirituality greatly enhances his capability to decipher these puzzling cases.
Read A Review:

This series kickoff is an embarrassment of riches: Holmesian sleuthing, political satire and droll comic study of a prily late bloomer.


A wonderfully fresh and exotic mystery.

Marilyn Stasio - New York Times

Anyone who has spent time in a communist country, especially one of the southeast Asian varieties, knows the peculiar combination of paranoid dread and almost slapstick comedy such a system creates, and Cotterill captures this contradictory situation perfectly, the joy and the fear...Cotterill is one of the best things to happen to crime fiction in years.

The Age (Australia)