I picked this book out of curiosity and to find out about the other side of life in Laos. Cambodia has often featured in the news for the wrong reasons.
A synopsis on the front cover describes it as "wonderfully witty".
I loved every page of it. It is a gem.
The book begins in the aftermath of a communist revolution. An old campaigner, Dr Siri Paiboun is "volunteered" to be the country's new coroner. Siri joined the struggle to be close to his wife, an ardent revolutionary.
He has looked after the health of the freedom fighters for more than 40 years, patching them up and sending them back to the frontline.
He barely remembers his pathology class lessons but dares not refuse the new assignment. He muddles along without a proper pathology theatre and instruments.
He has an English pathology textbook that he cannot read. He relies heavily on an idiotic savant who was trained by the last French pathologist before the war.
Siri decides to investigate several suspicious deaths simply because everyone looks down on him and he is told what his findings should be.
The Coroner's Lunch is witty, a laugh-a-minute, and a good read.