5 February 2009

Review: DISCO FOR THE DEPARTED, Colin Cotterill

Text Publishing, 2008, ISBN 978-1-921351-41-9, 264 pages

The year is 1977 and Laos is about to sign a big much publicised treaty with Vietnam in just a few days time. Dr Siri Paiboun, Laos' 73 year old rather reluctant coroner, has been summoned to revolutionary headquarters in the north east where the treaty is to be signed because, rather inconveniently, a mummified arm is protruding from a concrete path in the President's compound.

Dr Siri and his assistant Nurse Dtui are normally to be found running the morgue at Mahosot hospital in Vientiane. They have come away leaving their Downs Syndrome assistant Mr Geung in charge of the morgue. Recently Dr Siri has discovered that he hosts the spirit of an ancient Hmong shaman called Yeh Ming. The discovery has helped to explain his ability to communicate with the souls of the departed, but it does mean there are times when Siri has a problem distinguishing the supernatural from reality. On the other hand his supernatural "abilities" often play a far greater role in solving mysteries than his coronial skills do.

DISCO FOR THE DEPARTED is a rather quirky mixture of sleuthing and the supernatural, together with gobbets of Laotian culture and Communist history. Dr Siri's own acceptance of his shamanism means that the Western reader who would perhaps not normally accept this view of the world have no problem in accepting its role. Read more.

This is the third in this delightful but different series, the other two titles being THE CORONER'S LUNCH and THIRTY-THREE TEETH. There is just enough of the back-story from the two earlier novels recounted in DISCO FOR THE DEPARTED, although both of the other titles are also worth looking for.

Colin Cotterill's website
Titles to look for in the Dr. Siri series

Review of THE CORONER'S LUNCH on It's Criminal

My rating: 4.2


Uriah Robinson said...

I must read this book sometime as I am interested if the character of the Down's Syndrome assistant Mr Geung comes across a capable person. My own youngest has Down's Syndrome and never fails to astonish us with his abilities. DVD machines are easy for him although I feel like taking a hammer to them sometimes. He tells me "relax man" and gets it to work.

Kerrie said...

Mr Geung is very capable Norman and I think Colin Cotterill draws a wonderful picture of him. In DISCO FOR THE DEPARTED Siri's supervisor tries to take advantage of Siri's absence to get rid of Mr Geung.

Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Kerrie another one for the TBR mountain.

gautami tripathy said...

Geung is such a lovable character.

I enjoyed this book very much!


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