Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill: A Review

As I was walking around the Big Sleep bookstore in St. Louis, my eye caught the book cover that you can see in the picture. Of course, there was no way I could resist a mystery novel titled The Merry Misogynist that is set in the Communist Laos of the 1970ies so I immediately bought it. "That's a really good one," the store owner commented. Now that I have finished the book, I couldn't agree more.

This novel is part of Colin Cotterill series featuring a 73-year-old coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun and his intelligent and sexy bride, a 66-year-old Madame Daeng. The Merry Misogynist is an absolutely delightful gem of a mystery novel. I'm very glad I discovered this series and can't wait to read all the other Dr. Siri and Madame Daeng novels.

Many mystery writers - Agatha Christie - included have tried to create a series where a married couple would solve crimes together. Every such novel that I have read has been one huge flop. Colin Cotterill, however, managed to create a convincing, funny and endearing couple of amateur sleuths in his Dr. Siri and Madame Daeng. These characters are so memorable that they will, without a doubt, remain with you long after you are finished with the novel.

Another reason why this novel is worth checking out is that it gives you a very unique feel of the Communist Laos in the 70ies. Cotterill manages to offer a depiction of Laos in that era that is convincing and fascinating without turning into a history textbook. Of course, I know nothing of Laos in 1978 (which is when this novel takes place) but my experience of living in the Soviet Union makes me trust many of the details of a day-to-day life in a Communist country that Cotterill provides in The Merry Misogynist.

It is a rare mystery writer who knows how to write a funny and tender book that has at its core an investigation into the crimes of a brutal serial killer. Colin Cotterill, however, manages to do just that. Unlike many of today's mystery writers, he never succumbs to the temptation to become preachy or revel in depictions of gore.

Overall, I can say that I'm overjoyed to have found this great mystery series and recommend it highly to any lover of the genre.

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1 comment:

NancyP said...

I confess that I am a fan of the Dr. Siri series. It's a bit of a busman's holiday for me to read books featuring medical examiners (M.D. coroners) - no, I don't do forensics, but I am in a closely related field). I have read only the first four, and have passed the copies along to other mystery readers.