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The Woman Who Wouldnt Die Colin Cotterill Bibliography

Editorial Reviews

The long awaited follow up to 2011 s Slash Burn and the ninth installment in Colin Cotterill s bestselling mystery series starring the inimitable Lao national coroner Dr Siri In a small Lao village a very strange thing has happened 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 which have been lost at the bottom of a river for many years Lao national coroner Dr Siri Paiboun and his wife Madame Daeng are sent along to supervise the excavation It could be a kind of relaxing vacation for them maybe except Siri is obsessed with the pretty undead medium s special abilities and Madame Daeng might be a little jealous She doesn t trust the woman for some reasonis her hunch right What is the group really digging for at the bottom of this remote river on the Thai border What war secrets are being covered up

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Editorial Reviews

The long awaited follow up to 2011 s Slash Burn and the ninth installment in Colin Cotterill s bestselling mystery series starring the inimitable Lao national coroner Dr Siri In a small Lao village a very strange thing has happened 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 which have been lost at the bottom of a river for many years Lao national coroner Dr Siri Paiboun and his wife Madame Daeng are sent along to supervise the excavation It could be a kind of relaxing vacation for them maybe except Siri is obsessed with the pretty undead medium s special abilities and Madame Daeng might be a little jealous She doesn t trust the woman for some reasonis her hunch right What is the group really digging for at the bottom of this remote river on the Thai border What war secrets are being covered up

Read more

Editorial Reviews

The long awaited follow up to 2011 s Slash Burn and the ninth installment in Colin Cotterill s bestselling mystery series starring the inimitable Lao national coroner Dr Siri In a small Lao village a very strange thing has happened 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 which have been lost at the bottom of a river for many years Lao national coroner Dr Siri Paiboun and his wife Madame Daeng are sent along to supervise the excavation It could be a kind of relaxing vacation for them maybe except Siri is obsessed with the pretty undead medium s special abilities and Madame Daeng might be a little jealous She doesn t trust the woman for some reasonis her hunch right What is the group really digging for at the bottom of this remote river on the Thai border What war secrets are being covered up

Read more

Editorial Reviews

The long awaited follow up to 2011 s Slash Burn and the ninth installment in Colin Cotterill s bestselling mystery series starring the inimitable Lao national coroner Dr Siri In a small Lao village a very strange thing has happened 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 which have been lost at the bottom of a river for many years Lao national coroner Dr Siri Paiboun and his wife Madame Daeng are sent along to supervise the excavation It could be a kind of relaxing vacation for them maybe except Siri is obsessed with the pretty undead medium s special abilities and Madame Daeng might be a little jealous She doesn t trust the woman for some reasonis her hunch right What is the group really digging for at the bottom of this remote river on the Thai border What war secrets are being covered up

Read more

Cotterill, Colin - 'The Woman Who Wouldn't Die'

"Were you lovers?"
Daeng stopped walking and swung around clumsily to face Siri.
"Why on earth would you say that?"
"I'm psychic."
"You are not. You just carry spirits around. You're a...a suitcase."

Laos, October, 1978.
The woman known as Madame Used-To-Be can be seen receiving visitors, riding her bicycle and collecting her groceries from the village. But in the village people speak of her in the past tense, perhaps they do so because they had watched the funeral pyre's flames engulf her body some two months previously.

In Vientiane a group of old friends are chewing over events. In particular they listen with delight as Dr Siri Paiboun, recently retired National Coroner of Laos, describes a night-time raid by Housing Allocations on his official residence. Instead of the eleven illegal transients they hoped to ensnare, they found only a naked and indignant septuagenarian, Dr Siri, standing in his zinc bath tub. Siri remains silent on where he stowed his eleven guests. He sees no reason to place his friend Police Inspector Phosy in an awkward position by revealing the identity of the eleven people currently staying in the defunct French Embassy. But Siri's enjoyment of his retirement is interrupted by Judge Haeng who asks him to join a party travelling to the Mekhong village of Pak Lai, a group which includes General Popkorn, his Vietnamese wife � and a witch. The witch, Madame Used-To-Be, is a ba dong, one who can reveal the whereabouts of the bodies of the lost dead and the group are hoping to recover the body of General Popkorn's brother, killed some ten years ago. It is only appropriate that the retired National Coroner accompany the party. The witch will find the bones and the coroner will identify them � courtesy of the dead man's distinctive jaw injury received some years before his death. Siri is dubious about the trip but several things persuade him. One is the prospect of an all-expenses-paid jaunt accompanied by his wife Madame Daeng, enjoying the good food and drink at the village's boat-race festivities; another is the possibility that the witch may be able to help Siri with his own communication problems with the spirit world � he is tired of his inability to speak with the spirits directly, the years of vivid dreams and visions like so much spiritual dumb-show. Finally there is a reason for going to Pak Lai that is not so pleasurable; the recent appearance in Vientiane of a tall Frenchman in his 60s who claims to be searching for his "old friend" Daeng Keopakam. Siri is beginning to think that the woman the Frenchman seeks is Siri's own wife, a few days away from Vientiane might be good for his wife's health in more ways than one.

Colin Cotterill's "Dr Siri" series successfully interweaves tales from the country's French colonial past, the Indo-Chinese wars, and the series' setting of the People's Democratic Republic of Laos in the late 1970s. London-born Cotterill, who now lives in Thailand, spent several years in Laos during his career as a teacher and NGO worker and in a broadcast interview with NPR he describes how the series grew from the people's stories which he listened to whilst living in Vientiane. THE WOMAN WHO WOULDN'T DIE is the ninth book in the series and is a trademark Cotterill portmanteau of mystery on many levels. Siri, called upon to assist the identification of a General's dead brother with the help of a witch who can locate the bodies of the lost, becomes fascinated by this woman who was shot dead twice but is still walking and talking. His obsession with Madame Used-to-Be is a great annoyance to Siri's wife, Madame Daeng, who has a mysterious past of her own � recounted throughout the novel in the form of an autobiography � and someone from that past has returned to Laos and is looking for her.

Cotterill has referred to his books as "cozies". They are certainly written with plenty of dry humour and usually some kind of justice prevails. But does this makes them cozies? Not for me to argue with their author. What I will say is that the settings are exotic in time and place for many of us in the West, his characters are human, painted with a dry wit "warts and all" and the socialist bureaucracy of the day is portrayed with a satirical barb. Then there are, for some, the dreaded supernatural intrusions. For those of you who regard the supernatural element as "cheating", don't worry. So far Cotterill has ingeniously kept the spirit of mystery-solving pure; Siri's ongoing problem with the spirit-world is that he cannot speak to his visions and they cannot make themselves heard by him, so any progress he makes in solving a crime or mystery is by his own scientific deduction. And personally I like Siri's spirit-world; it has more the earthy, rooted quality of the imagery of the Mexican "Day Of The Dead" than an ethereal western chiller, THE WOMAN WHO WOULDN'T DIE for instance includes the puzzling vision of six naked Frenchmen waving frantically at Dr Siri.

Introduced a while ago to Colin Cotterill's books by Euro Crime, I have become a devoted fan. I was initially worried by this latest book opening with Dr Siri in retirement from his role as coroner, but I need not have. Ingeniously plotted and stuffed full of little jewels, I really do recommend THE WOMAN WHO WOULDN'T DIE � and indeed just about any in the series which, to my joy, contains many books that withstand re-reading. Long live the exotic "cozy".

Lynn Harvey, England
April 2013

Lynn blogs at Little Grey Doll.

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

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