The Lao People’s Democratic Republic has a coroner now…
What is the Dr. Siri Paiboun series about?
Written by English/Australian author Colin Cotterill, this mystery series takes us back to the 1970s in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
The story resolves around seventy-two-year-old Dr. Siri Paiboun, one of the last doctors left in Laos after the Communist takeover. He is untrained for the job but has been drafted to be a national coroner anyway.
Worse, his lab is underfunded, his boss is incompetent, and his support staff is quirky. But that will not stop him from doing his work and catching killers.
How to read the Dr. Siri Paiboun Books in Order?
Every book in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Coroner’s Lunch – Laos, 1978: Dr. Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old medical doctor, has unwillingly been appointed the national coroner of the new socialist Laos.When the body of the wife of a prominent politician comes through his morgue, Siri has reason to suspect the woman has been murdered. To get to the truth, Siri and his team face government secrets, spying neighbors, victim hauntings, Hmong shamans, botched romances, and other deadly dangers.
- Thirty-Three Teeth – Dr. Siri performs autopsies and begins to solve the mysteries relating to a series of deaths by what seem to be bear bites, to explain why a government official ran at full speed through a seventh-story window and fell to his death, and to discover the origins of the two charred bodies from the crashed helicopter in the temple at Luang Prabang. As it turns out, not all is peaceful and calm in the new Communist paradise of Laos.
- Disco For The Departed – Dr. Siri’s disinterment and autopsy of the body attached to the arm provide some grisly surprises but it is his gifts as a shaman that put the septuagenarian doctor on the trail of the killer. As Siri and his team close in, they must tackle a marriage proposal, brave the perils of life on the open road, and come face-to-face with a horrific sacrificial ritual.
- Anarchy and Old Dogs – When a blind, retired dentist is run down by a logging truck as he crosses the road to post a letter, Dr. Siri Paiboun finds himself faced with his most explosive case yet. The dentist’s mortal remains aren’t nearly as intriguing as the letter in his pocket. Written in invisible ink and encrypted, the letter presents Dr. Siri with an irresistible challenge.
- Curse of the Pogo Stick – Following a rash moment of insolence, Dr. Siri Paiboun is forced to go on a road trip with Judge Haeng and the Justice Department. While newly pregnant Nurse Dtui is left at the morgue to defend the staff against exploding corpses and geriatric gunslingers, Siri has his own problems. On a deserted jungle trail, Siri is kidnapped.
- The Merry Misogynist – Somebody in Laos is wooing and wedding country girls – and then killing them on honeymoon and binding their bodies to trees. The horror of what this monster does to his victims appalls Dr. Siri and his morgue team and they vow revenge.
- Love Songs from a Shallow Grave – As usual, all is abnormal in Dr. Siri Paiboun’s morgue. The good doctor and his team are investigating the case of the Three Epées: three women skewered by a sword through the heart. A culprit has been apprehended, tried, and sentenced to death. But Siri isn’t sure they have the right man.
- Slash and Burn – Dr. Siri is supervising an excavation for the remains of a US fighter pilot who went down in the remote northern Lao jungle ten years earlier. And the stakes are high. So when a member of the party is found dead, Dr. Siri suspects it may not have been an accident.
- The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die – In a small Lao village, a woman was shot and killed in her bed during a burglary; she was given a funeral and everyone in the village saw her body burned. Then, three days later, she was back in her house as if she’d never been dead at all. But now she’s clairvoyant and can speak to the dead. That’s why the long-dead brother of a Lao general has enlisted her to help his brother uncover his remains. Dr. Siri Paiboun and his wife, Madame Daeng, are sent along to supervise the excavation.
- Six and a Half Deadly Sins – Laos, 1979: Dr. Siri Paiboun, receives an unmarked package in the mail. Inside is a handwoven pha sin, a colorful traditional skirt worn in northern Laos. Siri is convinced someone is trying to send him a message and won’t let the matter rest until he’s figured it out.
- I Shot the Buddha – Laos, 1979: Dr. Siri Paiboun and his wife, Madame Daeng, have never been able to turn away a misfit. As a result, they share their small Vientiane house with an assortment of homeless people, mendicants, and oddballs. One of these oddballs is Noo, a Buddhist monk, who rides out on his bicycle one day and never comes back, leaving only a cryptic note in the refrigerator: a plea to help a fellow monk escape across the Mekhong River to Thailand.
- The Rat Catchers’ Olympics – The 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow is already rife with controversy, but when a Lao athlete is accused of murder, it escalates into a full-blown international incident. Dr. Siri Paiboun and his team are on the case in a city and country foreign to them, yet familiar in its corruption of justice.
- Don’t Eat Me – Dr. Siri Paiboun may have more experience dissecting bodies than making art, but now that he’s managed to smuggle a fancy movie camera into the country, he devises a plan to shoot a Lao adaptation of War and Peace with his friend Civilai. The only problem? The Ministry of Culture must approve the script before they can get rolling. Meanwhile, the skeleton of a woman has appeared under the Anusawari Arch in the middle of the night.
- The Second Biggest Nothing – Vientiane, 1980: For a man of his age and in his corner of the world, Dr. Siri is doing remarkably well. That is, until he finds a mysterious note tied to his dog’s tail. Upon finding someone to translate the note, Dr. Siri learns it is a death threat addressed not only to him, but to everyone he holds dear. Whoever wrote the note claims the job will be executed in two weeks.
- The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot– Laos, 1981: When an unofficial mailman drops off a strange bilingual diary, Dr. Siri is intrigued. Half is in Lao, but the other half is in Japanese, which no one Siri knows can read; it appears to have been written during the Second World War. Most mysterious of all, it comes with a note stapled to it: Dr. Siri, we need your help most urgently.
If you like Dr. Siri Paiboun, you may also want to see our Daisy Dalrymple reading order, or our guide to Qiu Xiaolong’s Inspector Chen series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.