cover image Love Songs from a Shallow Grave

Love Songs from a Shallow Grave

Colin Cotterill, Soho Crime, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-1-56947-627-7

Set in 1978, Cotterill's superb seventh mystery to feature Dr. Siri Paiboun (after 2009's The Merry Misogynist) finds "the national and only coroner of the People's Democratic Republic of Laos" nearing his 74th birthday chained to a lead pipe in a Cambodian prison. Siri's captivity is wrapped around investigating the puzzling deaths of three Laotian women, each skewered by dueling swords that are a decided rarity in Laos. A strong supporting cast, including Siri's recently acquired wife, Madame Daeng, and morgue colleague Nurse Dtui, who's married to Inspector Phosy, enriches the narrative. The unfathomable violence of the Khmer Rouge reign emerges during Siri's unexpected ordeal and forms a vivid contrast to his humanity in seeking to protect the murder suspect in the three sword deaths. This immensely satisfying mystery has it all—a heroic protagonist, a challenging puzzle, and an exotic setting. (Aug.)