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Disco for the Departed (Soho Crime) Paperback – August 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Soho Crime
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569474648
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569474648
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Set in Laos in the 1970s, this is the third book in Cotterills 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Colin Cotterill was born in London in 1952. He taught and trained teachers around the world before settling in Thailand where he wrote and produced a forty-program language teaching series, English by Accident, for Thai national television. He spent sever

Customer Reviews

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Another steller addition to what I think is one of the best mystery series in the market now.
Miran Ali
This is the third of Colin Cotterill's novels of Dr. Siri Paiboun, the spry and wily septuagenarian national coroner for the Democratic People's Republic of Laos.
Gary Griffiths
This time, Dr. Siri and Dtui are called to investigate a mummified body found at an inappropriate place and at an inappropriate time.
Dick Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This third installment of the "Dr. Siri" series continues to document the adventures of the national coroner of newly Communist Laos. Set in 1977, the story opens with the elderly coroner and his sensible nurse sent to the remote town of Vieng Xai. Located in the northern Hua Phan province, the town is being built at the base of a vast cave system that served at the Pathet Lao headquarters during the struggle against the American-backed monarchy. Now, as it is being prepared to stage an important ceremony to mark a new friendship treaty with Vietnam, a very strange corpse has turned up. Since there is no police force to speak of, Dr. Siri is called in to make sense of it with all due haste.

The body turns out to be that of a Cuban attached to a nearby "advisory" unit. After establishing Dr. Siri's credentials as a spirit host/medium in the first two books, it comes as no surprise that this adventure finds him tangled up with the Caribbean spirit world of santeria. While the villain of this storyline, which involves a beautiful Vietnamese girl and doomed love, is rather obvious, there's still plenty to like. The history of the caves is fascinating, the corpses to be investigated very unusual, and the bureaucratic red tape both comic and instructive. Meanwhile, Nurse Dtui is given her own subplots, including a stint heading up a hospital treating mine victims, and an unexpected romantic proposal. Meanwhile, back in Vientiane, morgue assistant Mr. Geung is exiled to a northern work camp by a nefarious judge with an axe to grind with Dr. Siri. The determined Geung resolves to escape and make his way the hundreds of miles back, leading to adventures that are variously droll and deadly.

As in the two previous books. Dr.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gary Griffiths VINE VOICE on July 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the third of Colin Cotterill's novels of Dr. Siri Paiboun, the spry and wily septuagenarian national coroner for the Democratic People's Republic of Laos. It is also the most ambitious of the series, adding a few layers of depth and gravity to its relatively lighthearted predecessors.

Siri is called to the northern mountains of Huaphan province, home of the legendary cave dwellings where the upstart communists of the Pathet Lao hung out while overthrowing the Lao monarchy. A mummified arm has been found protruding from a broken slab of sidewalk concrete in front of the president's northern retreat just days before the anniversary celebration of the new red regime. Siri, with the steadfast nurse Dtui at his side, must identify the corpse and solve the mystery, all in time to prevent the struggling Pathet Lao further embarrassment. Meanwhile, in the Dr.'s absence, Siri's faithful but retarded morgue assistant, Mr. Geung, has been kidnapped from the beloved morgue, forcibly reassigned to a labor camp of the north.

As in all of Cotterill's novels, eastern mysticism plays a key role, and Siri's ability to see and communicate with the dead again comes in handy as a neat forensic tool. "Disco" harbors a darker theme than either "The Coroner's Lunch" or "Thirty-Three Teeth", mixing Caribbean black magic with Southeast Asian spiritualism, while wading MASH-deep into the horrors of war and the toll on its unintended and unsuspecting victims. Notwithstanding, and despite slightly more political innuendo than was mercifully avoided in his previous works, this is an intelligent and engaging read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. A Shogren on November 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Colin you dog. How do you do it? Usually by the third book the characters get paper thin and it seems like the writer is just "phoning it in."

"Disco" is even stronger and more fleshed out than the first two books in the series and they are superb. I am even a tougher critic now as I now live in Vientaine and check facts with former (?) Pathet Lao members and those who remember all that happened. No one has anything but the highest regards for your sense of history or accuracy in character. I have been to the hospital where Dr Siri's morgue is supposed to be located. I live in the same neighborhood. No one writes with more depth and feeling for the Lao people than Cotterill.

Even if you have no interest in Lao, Dr Siri is a detective that could stoke a pipe with Holmes. Nurse Dtui is more that a Watson.

This is a rich and brilliant read about an exciting and deep culture.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on September 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The third in British author Cotterill's Dr. Siri Paiboun series, after "the Coroner's Lunch," and "Thirty Three Teeth," is even more unusual, assured and absorbing than the first two. Set in Laos in 1977, as the country adapts to its new communist regime, the story begins when a boulder falls on a cement walkway in a remote village exposing a body entombed therein.

But this isn't just any remote village. It's the pre-revolutionary home of the Pathet Lao. The walkway is in front of the caves where the rebels had their glorious hidden headquarters before overthrowing the decadent monarchy. An anniversary celebration is scheduled with honored Vietnamese allies and the government wants the mess and the mystery cleared up fast.

Siri, the 73-year-old national pathologist and his nurse, Dtui, arrive to find the mummified corpse of a Cuban soldier who had worked at the nearby hospital where a respected colleague of Siri's, Dr. Santiago, presides. Santiago, a Cuban surgeon, hesitantly reveals an exotic story of black magic, bewitching and retribution, featuring the murdered man and another black Cuban soldier.

Ritual marks on the corpse's body bear out Dr. Santiago's strange tale, and Siri, well aware of the power of evil spirits, begins to investigate, cutting through red tape and officiousness with wily and serene assurance. Siri's shamanistic heritage augments his sharp powers of observation and deduction as he and Dtui discover more bodies, secrets and scandals, and Siri dances to nightly disco only he and the departed can hear.

Meanwhile Siri's exemplary morgue assistant, Geung, left behind to guard the place in the coroner's absence, has been seized by soldiers and sent to a job several hundred miles away.
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