Monday, September 2, 2013
Review of Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill (Quercus, 2010)
Love Songs from a Shallow Grave is the seventh book in the Dr Siri series. Of the four that I’ve read it’s the strongest in terms of the plot, which is very well constructed and executed, blending a nice mystery puzzle with a strong sense of place and fascinating historical and social context. Whilst the tale still has some of the comic charm of the other books, both of the intersecting storylines are dark, especially Siri’s time in Kampuchea, which is quite harrowing but well handled. And although the story principally follows the investigation and the official trip, Cotterill advances the personal lives of the stable of main characters Siri, Madame Daeng, Nurse Dtui, Inspector Phosy, former Minister Civilai, and Mr Geung. Indeed, a real strength of the book is that the full gang are present for nearly the entire tale, each with their own interesting subplot. Overall, a clever, dark and enjoyable tale with a fascinating geographical and historical context.