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Crime Fiction: Laotian chief coroner solves crimes

There is a small band of writers living in Thailand. Colin Cotterill is a writer whose writing has not appeared on the radar screen in Thailand. But it should. He maintains a website that, among other things, is seeking a way to distribute books to children in Laos. A description of how he came about getting involved in the project involves a street urchin begging for candy money.

Like a number of authors, Cotterill has fallen afoul of publishers who are less than honourable. His website asks that you don’t buy “The Night Bastard” as the publisher is, to use his words, “a crook.”

Cotterill has broken into the New York publishing market with two mysteries that have been receiving rave reviews. To suggest that New York publishers avoid fiction set in Southeast Asia is obviously incorrect. Good writing always finds a way to market.

Cotterill’s novel Thirty-Three Teeth published in hardback is published the respected New York publisher Soho Crime. The novel features a 72 year old Laotian chief coroner.

This is the second book in the series. The first Dr. Siri novel, The Coroner’s Lunch was released by Soho Crime in 2004. Both novels are set in Laos during the 1970s.

Booklist wrote in the review of Thirty-Three Teeth: “Dr. Siri Paiboun, the nation's aged chief coroner and host body for an ancient spirit, will find a way to keep life interesting. In his second outing, the impish Siri faces three mysteries. First, the government asks him to identify a pair of badly burned corpses. Soon, a fearsome creature begins slaughtering the citizens of Vientiane. And then people start inexplicably hurtling to their deaths from a ministry building. In one of many farcical twists, the nation's police officers carry empty guns. So Siri; his friend, Inspector Phosy; able nurse Dtui; and an old comrade with a high party post must use their considerable wits--and an occasional supernatural assist--to crack the cases. As they do so, readers will crack more than a few smiles.”

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