Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill

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Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Well-written crime story based in Southern Thailand with a feisty heroine, good supporting cast and a neat story. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: September 2011
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1849165549

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Jimm Juree was a crime reporter, just a heartbeat away from getting the job of her dreams when family circumstances forced her to quit her job and move to a fishing village on the Gulf of Siam. Forget all about the up-market resorts like Phuket where the money goes. It never gets anywhere near Maprao. Mair, her daughter Jimm and son Arny along with Granddad Jah have to try and grub a living out of the Gulf Bay Lovely Resort and Restaurant. Jimm's sister, who used to be her brother, has chosen to stay in the city, where she lives her life online and not always on the right side of the law.

Life looks as though it is at least going to be quiet and peaceful – until Old Mel decides that he's going to have a well on his plantation and hits a VW camper van complete with two skeletons one of whom is wearing an orange hat rather than water. As if this wasn't enough excitement an abbot is murdered at the nearby Feuang Fa Temple – and he's wearing a rather incongruous orange hat. The case is taken out of the hands of the local police and all Jimm Juree's crime-reporting instincts resurface.

I first encountered Colin Cotterill when I read some of his Dr Siri Paiboun series set in nineteen-seventies Laos. The setting was perfectly evoked, the stories good and the leading character engaging but I found the supernatural element rather tiresome and left the series to others with more of a taste for fantasy. I had liked the writing though and it was this which tempted me to read Killed at the Whim of a Hat. If you're wondering about the title it's a George W Bush-ism and each chapter is headed by one of his, er, sayings. Putting aside the fact that it's cruel to mock the afflicted I laughed heartily until I remembered what he used to be.

It's a good story, carried well by Jimm Juree's feisty character and her wisecracking attitude to life. It was the supporting characters who really came up trumps though with people who looked as though they were stereotypical (Granddad and the camp detective at the local police station for starters) proving to be anything but. This looks like the beginning of a series and I'll certainly be looking out for the next book.

There is some small benefit to reading the Dr Siri Paiboun series in chronological order but they do read well as standalones. The one we've enjoyed the most is Love Songs From A Shallow Grave. For more Asian crime we can recommend Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint.

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Buy Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill at Amazon.com.


Colin Cotterill's Jimm Juree series in chronological order

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