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With her former cop grandfather as back up, she sets out to discover how the poor fellow ended up where he did—and why. On their journey, with the rest of their disjointed family in tow, they uncover gruesome tales of piracy and slavery, violence and murder in the Gulf of Thailand. Are the authorities uninterested because they’re involved, or because the victims aren’t Thai? Whatever the reason, Jimm and her team are going it alone and their lives are under threat. And who exactly are those two elegant women in cabin three and why has the engine number of their car been filed away?
Airport hostages and hand grenades, monkeys and naked policemen—once more the sublime and the ridiculous clash at the Gulf Bay Lovely Resort and Restaurant.
"Definitely puts the fun in family dysfunction. Jimm, an Asian Stephanie Plum, rattles steadily to a solution, with many hilarious episodes along the way."
"The author's natural gift for irony ... is to be relished."
“Cotterill masterfully blends real-world issues . . . with appealing cozy elements and his trademark humor. Series readers will be thrilled with this installment and anxious for the next one.”
“The best beach title around.”
—New York Times
“The fast-paced, tense story features lots of quirky characters and humorous situations, all revealed through Guest’s pacing and tones. Fans of cozies, particularly those set in exotic locales, will enjoy Cotterill’s latest.”
For those coming late to the Colin Cotterill show, take a seat and let me catch you up on what you've missed. The author started a mystery series back in 2004 featuring Dr. Siri Paiboun, septuagenarian and solitary coroner in the newly Pathet Lao'ed Laos of the later 1970s. Siri is a veteran of the insurgency, but freethinking, which befits someone whose body, much to his surprise, hosts an esteemed shaman as old as the millennium. Siri has little to no governance over his spiritual experiences — they are unruly, sublime to murderous, but educational — though, as a coroner, he maintains a seasoned composure before the nasty mortal mysteries that have become his lot over the course of seven novels, many associated with the farcical operators of the dawning, "socialist" Laos. We have met the enemy, you bet; yet Laos is in good, atmospheric hands with Cotterill.
In Killed at the Whim of a Hat (2011), Cotterill introduced a new series and crime-reporter Jimm Juree, a young woman of brains and journalistic ambition whose occasionally, inconveniently addled mother sold the family fortune and her daughter's ascendant future in up-country Chiang Mai, Thailand, and moved her family to the low-country south, to the tumbledown Gulf Bay Lovely Resort and Restaurant, sitting on a sliver of land between a devil river and the deep, gray sea. Here monsoon winds bring scads of garbage — and the stray body part — to the beach. A head, for instance, as in Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach.
Jimm may be cook and bottle washer at the resort and make a few bahts on the side by testing antidepressant drugs for pharmaceutical companies — News flash! Beware certain strains of female Viagra! ("His T-shirt stuck to his muscles like paint. I fought back my urge to rip it off him with my teeth") — but she is a crime reporter at heart. That head on the beach does not escape her interest, and despite all her sardonicism it leads her into the vile world of high-sea slave labor, where dirt-poor Burmese are the likely victims. Once duped onto the fishing vessels, the Burmese are just so much jetsam if they make trouble. Most heads never make it to the beach.
This is a bitter pill and even a gleaning of the newspapers will speak to its truth. Its solemnity gives the tale weight and purpose, which Cotterill counterbalances with Jimm's tomfoolery, side stories that include aristocratic shenanigans to get through college, a cast of fanciful odd fellows, and the lovelorn life of a woman you want to embrace in a warm hug. Jimm's instinctive antipathy toward doing the wrong thing to make a cheap buck is cheering and a challenge to "the view that the bigger the crime the lower the chances of arrest," while her sass and bravado are all about dignity and honesty, traits as rare and chromatic as the local sapphires and rubies, and not to be lightly gifted.
Peter Lewis is the director of the American Geographical Society in New York City. A selection of his work can be found at writesformoney.com.
Reviewer: Peter Lewis
Excerpted from Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill Copyright © 2012 by Colin Cotterill. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted July 1, 2012
I was first introduced to Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri's stories. I whipped through all the books very fast, enjoying the doings of the elderly, but sharp-witted protagonist, Dr. Siri. Cotterill has a sly, sense of humor that does not distract from his mysteries at all.
I bought the audio version of the first Jimm Juree book, "Killed at the Whim of a Hat," and found myself desperately waiting for the second one. The Jimm Juree books are lighter than Dr. Siri, but they are just as rich in detail, and equally clever and amusing. Another bonus of both series is that they are set in Southeast Asia;the author has clearly studied the quirks, habits, and history of the local people. I highly recommend this book, though you should probably start with the first one so you are properly introduced to Jimm Juree's family and her friends.
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While IMHO, the first book of this series "Killed at the Whim of a Hat" is better; this one is action-packed as you learn about the perils of immigrants trying to survive in coastal areas.
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Posted June 30, 2012
Summarizing the story here is best left to the publisher, but this is one wacky book. Toward the end,one of the characters asks "Why did we bother?" That's an appropriate question. Why did the author bother to write it and why did I bother to read it? It is so utterly silly and pointless. Yes, I know that there is some humor there, but not enough to merit a few hours of my time. Others will reach different conclusions, and you are entitled to them and all of the time you want to spend on this silly novel.
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Posted March 31, 2013
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