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Synopsis

When a party official’s wife turns up dead in Communist Laos, an elderly doctor becomes an unlikely detective in this engaging mystery.

Dr. Siri Paiboun, one of the last doctors left in Laos after the 1975 communist takeover, has been drafted to be national coroner. He is untrained for the job, but the independent seventy-two-year-old has an outstanding qualification for it: curiosity. And he doesn’t mind incurring the wrath of the party hierarchy as he unravels mysterious murders: The spirits of the dead are on his side—and speak to him in his dreams.

With the help of his newly appointed secretary, the ambitious and shrewd Dtui, and morgue assistant Mr. Geung, who has Down syndrome, Dr. Paiboun performs autopsies and begins asking questions to solve the mystery relating to the death of the wife of a government official.

But when bodies of tortured Vietnamese men begin arriving at the morgue, the precarious position of the coroner and the lab becomes all the more evident. As it turns out, all is not peaceful and calm in the new communist paradise of Laos.

The first book in the Dr. Siri Paiboun Mysteries, which the New York Times calls “unexpectedly blithe and charming,” The Coroner’s Lunch blends humor, mystery, and a touch of the supernatural that fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books will adore.
 

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