Sunday, July 19, 2009

Daggers, Libraries, and Colin Cotterill

Although (thanks to decades of bookselling) I have a dazzling collection of talented friends and acquaintances on two continents, many of whom are writers of the published variety, none of them until now have ever appeared in the prestigious pages of the Times of London. It took Colin Cotterill to achieve that pinnacle--see

Winner of England's Dagger in the Library award last week, Colin accepted his newfound fame with his usual aplomb, cartooning the journalist from the Times who interviewed him, taking snapshots of the awards audience, and wearing his customary sandals. (The other award nominees, the Times noted a bit stuffily, wore business attire.)

I have recently begun to reread Colin's Dr. Siri mysteries, volumes one through five, and am once again pulled into the world of Laos post-liberation, where a (fictional) 70+-year-old doctor becomes the national coroner simply because he is the sole survivng physician, and is plunged into a stunning variety of imaginative homicides. Along with his newfound forensic responsibilities, Siri also learns he has been endowed with shamanic talents in his sunset years, which throws a whole new dimension into crime fiction. After all, Hercules Poirot had his "liitle grey cells" but no phibob threatening him--nor did he have the estimable Mr. Geung, who has Downs Syndrome, a remarkable memory, and a stunning knowledge of how to handle a corpse in a professional manner, or Nurse Dtui, a Junoesque charmer with the wit of a Southeast Asian Dorothy Parker. Siri has been blessed with all of these assets, which make his novels reading that borders on the compulsive, like gulping down the literary equvalent of macadamia nuts.

As I race through Colin's novels, I'm delighted once more at the originality of his characters, his knowledge of Laos history and his respect for that country's culture and citizenry. Plus he concocts a damned fine mystery--my only complaint is there's only five of them and I am halfway through number three! Enough of this award-winning nonsense, Mr. Cotterill! Come home and give me more of Dr. Siri!!

1 comment:

Kim said...

You've been talking about his books for years. I need to set aside some time to read him. I am intrigued every time you mention him!