Set in the People's Democratic Republic of Laos in 1977, Cotterill's engrossing third mystery (after 2005's Thirty-three Teeth) takes series hero Dr. Siri Paiboun, the 73-year-old national coroner who has recently discovered his shaman ancestry, and Nurse Dtui, his no-nonsense associate, from the capital, Vientiane, to remote Vieng Xai, where a cement-entombed corpse has turned up at the Laotian president's compound. At Kilometer 8 Hospital, Paiboun and Dtui meet Dr. Santiago, a charismatic surgeon on loan from Cuba, who uncovers crucial information about the victim's identity. As they close in on the killer, Paiboun and company must deal with soul-transfer, a marriage proposal, ancient rituals, frenetic dancing, racism and more murders. Horrific sacrificial rituals coexist seamlessly with the endless, banal red tape that hampers the investigation. Paiboun's gift for conversing with the dead comes in handy as he endures such strange happenings as nightly disco music only he can hear. This witty and unusual series just keeps getting better. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
It is 1977, and Dr. Siri Paiboun, Laos's national coroner (The Coroner's Lunch), and his nurse, Dtui, are sent to the mountains of the Hiraphan Province to deal with a corpse encased in cement. Unfortunately, the body is found on the property of the new president, who is planning a huge national celebration there in just days. Once again, Cotterill demonstrates his extensive knowledge of Laotian history and his ability to create memorable characters. Readers who enjoy Eliot Pattison's Asian thrillers (Bone Mountain) will find that Cotterill shares the same sardonic view of Asian communism mixed with a touch of mysticism (the dead speak to Siri), a quality that sets the work of both authors apart from most mystery fare. Cotterill lives in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 4/1/06.] Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Set in Laos in the 1970s, this is the third book in Cotterill's exotic and engrossing series featuring Dr. Siri Paiboun, the 73-year-old national coroner; his nurse, Dtui; and Mr. Geung, a developmentally challenged morgue assistant. After a corpse is found entombed in concrete at the presidential compound in remote, mountainous Hiraphan Providence, Paiboun and Dtui are sent from Vientiane to the scene of the apparent crime to sort things out. They need to work fast because a large national celebration is scheduled to take place at the compound in just a few days. Aided by his status as a spirit host, Paiboun takes advantage of clues flowing directly from the dead. But this boon is offset by the endless red tape of the sporadically functioning communist regime. Meanwhile, Mr. Geung, through no fault or choice of his own, is engaged in a separate harrowing, prolonged, and near deadly adventure. Cotterill mixes several elements of mysticism, including soul-transfer, elaborate rituals, dancing (and disco music) for the departed with more conventional themes: racism, international relations, military and government bureaucracy, and romantic posturing. The supernatural happenings and unfamiliar location, time, and characters demand sophistication on the part of teen readers, but for those eager to explore new territory, the novel offers an excellent alternative to the typical American or British mystery setting.-Robert Saunderson, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
On the way to solving the mystery of the corpse in the cave, curmudgeonly Dr. Siri meets an array of Comrades as quirky as himself. In the late 1970s, aging Siri Paiboun, national coroner and reluctant communist in the new Laos, is sent with Nurse Dtui, his protegee, to a remote mountain location for what he expects to be an educational retreat. Instead, they're taken to a cave that's a pre-coup hiding place for the current president and are presented with a mystery to solve: Who belongs to the arm sticking out of the concrete, and how did the corpse die? Before the coup, concrete paths often led from housing to hideouts for the president-to-be and his cronies. Aided in their efforts by a prickly Cuban coroner named Santiago-a deft parody of Siri-the shaggy duo threaten to expose political skeletons better left undisturbed. Dtui's crackling banter with Siri confirms her position as a curmudgeon-in-training. As in previous adventures, Siri's deductions are aided by his odd dreams. Meanwhile, an alternate plot follows the jungle odyssey of Geung Watajak, a simple morgue assistant. Though ultimately integrated into the main story, it also stands alone as an effective piece of serious fiction. With its snappy chapter titles and its emphasis on character, this third installment in Cotterill's series will especially appeal to fans returning from earlier episodes (Thirty-Three Teeth, 2005, etc.).
Praise for Disco for the Departed
“From now on, I’ll even think twice about applying the escapist label to something as purely entertaining as Colin Cotterill’s 1970s period mysteries about that sweetest of sleuths, Dr. Siri Paiboun . . . As the author gently points out, life would be dreary without a few thrills.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Cotterill’s writing is both evocative and educational.”
“Siri grows more ingenious, wry and wise with every year . . . Atmospheric, humorous, and engaging.”
“Readers who enjoy Eliot Pattison’s Asian thrillers . . . will find that Cotterill shares the same sardonic view of Asian communism mixed with a touch of mysticism . . . a quality that sets the work of both authors apart from most mystery fare.”
—Library Journal, Starred Review