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Disco for the Departed

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About the Author

Colin Cotterill was born in London. He has taught in Australia, the USA and Japan and lived for many years in Laos where he worked for nongovernmental social service organizations. He now writes full-time and lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand


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.

The story is good, the characters interesting, the hero delightful and the setting fascinating: a find - Literary Reviewan embarrassment of riches: Holmesian sleuthing, political satire, and a droll comic study of a prickly late bloomer - Kirkus (starred review)A wonderfully fresh and exotic mystery - New York Times Book Review

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.

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.

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