Love Songs From A Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill
|Love Songs From A Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Seventh in the Dr Siri Paiboun series and getting better all the time. A real treat for the connoisseur of crime fiction.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: May 2010|
|Publisher: Quercus Publishing PLC|
Dr Siri Paiboun is about to celebrate his seventy-fourth birthday but it looks as though it might be his last. Instead of being at home with Madam Daeng, his wife of three months, he's in jail. It's not your average run-of-the-mill jail either. Siri is chained to some lead piping and conditions are not exactly five star. Meanwhile Phosy and Dtui are having marriage problems whilst he struggles to investigate the deaths of three women, all skewered by an epee and their thighs showing a letter engraved with a knife.
This might be the seventh book in the series and Dr Siri might be getting older but there are no signs that the series is getting tired. All the old friends are there but the star of the show this time is very definitely south-east Asia. There's more than usual about the history of Laos and Vientiane in particular but it's delivered with a light touch. Conditions there might seem to be a little primitive given that it's the nineteen seventies and the Americans have not long left, but compared to Cambodia it's heaven. Laos might be run by bumbling incompetents but it's far better than the situation in Phnom Phen.
Cotterill's writing goes from strength to strength. He's always had the ability to evoke a place or a person in just a few well-chosen words, but in Love Songs… he seems to have surpassed himself. I laughed, I cried and sometimes I just smiled at the rightness of a description as in …frogs were yelling their delight like an orchestra of bedsprings and didgeridoos. Perfect.
And the mystery of the women skewered by an epee? Well, that's one of the most complex in the series so far. It was also more to my taste as the book largely moves away from Shamanism and reliance on the spirit world for solutions and we get an example of good, old-fashioned detection at its best. Methods might be primitive – finger-prints evidence is a hundred years behind the west – and cash for supplies very short, but that all makes the solution to a very complex investigation all the more compelling. It's great stuff.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For more crime in south-east Asia we can recommend anything by Colin Cotterill but have a look at The Godfather of Kathmandu by John Burdett and Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint.
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