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Killed at the Whim of a Hat

Killed at the Whim of a Hat

Geschrieben von Colin Cotterill

Erzählt von Jeany Park


Killed at the Whim of a Hat

Geschrieben von Colin Cotterill

Erzählt von Jeany Park

Bewertungen:
4/5 (31 Bewertungen)
Länge:
10 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Jul 19, 2011
ISBN:
9781611744972
Format:
Hörbuch

Beschreibung

Jimm Juree was a crime reporter for the Chiang Mai Daily Mail with a somewhat eccentric family. When she is forced to follow her family to a rural village on the coast of Southern Thailand, she’s convinced her career—maybe her life—is over. So when a van containing the skeletal remains of two hippies is inexplicably unearthed in a local farmer’s field, Jimm is thrilled. Shortly thereafter an abbot at a local Buddhist temple is viciously murdered.

Suddenly Jimm’s new life becomes somewhat more promising—and a lot more deadly. And if Jimm is to unravel the inexplicable events, it will take luck, perseverance, and the help of her entire family.
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Jul 19, 2011
ISBN:
9781611744972
Format:
Hörbuch


Über den Autor

Born in London, Colin Cotterill has worked as teacher in Israel, Australia, the U.S. and Japan before he started training teachers in Thailand. Cotterill and his wife live in a small fishing village on the Gulf of Siam in Southern Thailand. He has won the Dilys and a CWA Dagger and has been a finalist for several other awards. His Jimm Juree Mysteries include Killed at the Whim of a Hat; Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach, and The Axe Factor.

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  • (4/5)
    Very enjoyable.
  • (3/5)
    I definitely enjoyed Colin Cotterill's first series, the Dr. Siri Paiboun mysteries, so I was prepared to be as delighted by this new protagonist Jimm Juree, a crime reporter wannabe, whose mother relocates the family from a big city to the boondocks. My hopes may have been set too high.Cotterill gives us a quirky cast of characters: Grandpa, a retired traffic cop; Siss, the transgendered beauty queen who used to be her brother, and who now runs a dubious online company; a rather addled mother who tries to relocate the entire family from a bustling city to a rural nowhere because there's a nice place to live; and a body-building baby brother who tries in vain to keep Jimm on the moral high road. I'm going to have to reserve judgement on them ...they just didn't do enough for me (except for Grandpa) to make me jump for joy and say "WOW- he's done it again!" There is certainly plenty of room to develop this new group of loonies. The setting, modern day Thailand, also needs much more filling out.Cotterill delights us with quotes from George W. Bush as openers for each chapter, beginning with Families is where our nation finds hope. Where wings take dream. George W Bush LaCrosse Wisc 10/18/2000 And ending with Rarely is the question asked: "Is our children learning?" George W Bush Florence SC 2/1/2000 At first we scratch our head, trying to figure out what they have to do with anything. Later we are given the explanation of why "W" is featured, but I won't spoil it for you. It isn't until the beginning of Chapter 8 that we get some inkling about the title of the book: "Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat."George W. Bush Washington DC, 17 September 2004 There are three crimes Jimm is trying to report on (solve?)--two skeletons found buried in a VW van, a dead dog (poisoned? by whom?) and a brutally murdered monk. These three stories were quite disjointed, and I kept wondering if they were related, if they were crimes at all, and what they had to do with the story at any given time. At least there is a really fun "fairy" police officer who helps Jimm sort things out. I just received the second in this series as an audio to review from the publisher. Based on Cotterill's reputation, and my previous enjoyment of his stories, I'm willing to give this series room to grow, but I'm not going to go much past #2 unless I can get a better feel for this cast of characters, more Thai culture and history, and a less disjointed plot. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for the best, so that maybe, as GWB says at the beginning of Chapter 13 They misunderestimated me. George W Bush Bentonville AK 11/6/2000
  • (5/5)
    I wasn't sure if I would like this book, but it was such a delightful surprise! This novel is the first in a new mystery series set in Southern Thailand. Even though it takes place in modern day, you won't find a lot of graphic violence or sex, which I always appreciate. Jimm Juree is a female crime reporter whose blossoming career is put on hold when her mother sells their place and buys a run down hotel in the south of Thailand - far away from civilization. But when buried skeletons are found nearby and a monk is brutally murdered, Jimm has a purpose again. She attempts to track down the murderer(s) with the help of her lovably crazy family and one eccentric policeman. The title of the book, and a quote at the beginning of each chapter, are taken from the words of George W. Bush. The reader doesn't understand why at first, but everything is this book is revealed in layers until all is clear. Some GWB supporters were offended by this, but I thought it was handled in a fair way.Many have compared this to the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books. I haven't read those books, so I can't give my opinion on that. I think if you took Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, mixed it with Louise Penny's Three Pines series, and put everyone down in southern Thailand, you might end up with something like this. There is a lot of humor here - lots of dry sarcastic wit from Jimm as the narrator. Too much snark would have turned me off, but I soon realized she has a big heart and isn't as tough as she seems. The characters here are very unique and memorable - but they also come across as real, not just caricatures. The plot has depth and the mystery is complex. Clues are revealed gradually to hold interest until the end.I will definitely be reading the next book in this series. I want to 'see' these people again. Highly recommended.(I received this book from Amazon's Vine Program.)
  • (3/5)
    I received this book on GoodReads.

    I enjoyed this new series by Colin Cotterill. It took me quite awhile to get interested in the story, but once it caught my interest I finished it very quickly. The humor is subtle and the characters very quirky. Sometimes I felt like the mystery (s), that were the base of the plot, were really secondary to the author's attempt to flesh out these new characters. That was alright with me because it makes me want to read the next book in the series to see what this group is up to next!

    I enjoyed and laughed out loud at the George W. Bush quotes at the head of every chapter. And the clever way the author used one of his quotes to name this novel.

    I give this 3.5 stars!!
  • (3/5)
    I was recommended this book by GoodReads, and I thought that it would be funny with a tricky little mystery. The setting is southern Thailand and the main character is an investigative journalist named Jimm Jurree. There are lots of eccentric and enjoyable characters in the book. Jimm's mother and grandfather, her transgender older sister, her younger body building brother and best of all a gay policeman named Chompu who becomes a friend and aly of Jimm's. Unfortunately, I liked all of these secondary characters much more than Jimm herself. Her sarcasm and distrust of most people is a bit hard to take after awhile. The mystery was ok, but I found that we were skipping all over the place whilst following Jimm and Lieutenant Chompu try to solve two unrelated murders - one may or not have been a murder, but it was from decades earlier and the other a recent murder of an abbot at a monastery close to Jimm's home. I have given the book three stars because of the secondary characters. They are very well done indeed.
  • (4/5)
    Great start to a new series. Quirky characters that come alive on the pages.
  • (1/5)
    Disappointing book, by an author I had found quite entertaining in his earlier book. The best part of this book were the chapter introductions used - some of the non-sequiturs coming from George Bush. Mystery is why two people were buried in a car in Thialand. Couldn't really follow the reporters explanations of how or why she ended up where she was.
  • (2/5)
    There is much talk these days of non-euro writers writing about other cultures (Bill Cheng's Southern Cross the Dog, and Aslan's history of early Christians, Zealot ).

    Cotterill, on the other hand, is your typical euro, an Anglo-Austrialian who writes about another culture, one that he fills with English prototypes dressed as Asians: ambitious girl reporter, post-fling mother, virgin body-builder brother, gender-changing sister, etc.

    Cotterill plays with Thai culture, teasing, poking fun, and smart-assesing himself through a pair of crimes. Think Carl Hiaasen in southeast asia.

    The book is "fun," not much violence: only people already dead for years and a mangy dog are the victims. It sounds like it might accurately skewer modern Thailand, with the country sounding more westernized than Kansas but portrayed having a government out of Gilbert and Sullivan.

    I give it two stars because it is not my kind of book, less a mystery than sardonic spoof, less a view of another culture than a satire. But if that is your coup of tea (Cotterill started out English-bred, you know), then you will love it.

    PS I am sensitive to this issue (it has been pointed out to me several times) because I have done the same thing. I wrote Santo Gordo: A Killing in Oaxaca about southern Mexico, but I keep my main character an ex-pat, one who wonders at the country and people. I could not fit myself (or my characters) into the skin of a Oaxacan. I get the feeling Cotterill gets the Thai people to fit his ideas, not the other way around.
  • (5/5)
    What a great title for this,the first in a new series of crime novels featuring Jimm Juree. Set in Thailand,it tells of one of the oddest murderers I've ever come across. We also meet Jimm's strange and appealing family and her equally strange police contacts. Like many other Cotterill readers I was dismayed that this latest book was not one in the Dr Siri series but not to worry,this is every bit as good.
  • (5/5)
    I have read most of the Dr. Siri series by Colin Cotterill and really enjoyed them. Cotterill has a sly sense of humour and a grasp of the ridiculous that really appeals to me. The Laotian setting of that series was an added bonus. So when I saw that he had a new series starring a female journalist in Thailand I snapped it up. I’m not at all disappointed in this new setting.Jimm Jurree is thirty-something and working as a crime reporter in Chiang Mai when her world falls apart. Her mother, Mair, who may be on the verge of senility, has sold the small shop where the family lives and bought a beach resort in Maprao province in the southern part of Thailand. Jimm, her brother Arny and their grandfather, Grandad Jah, accompany Mair to the resort because they can’t imagine letting Mair go alone. Only the oldest child, Sissi, who used to be a male but changed her gender, stayed in Chiang Mai to run her computer business. Jimm spends her days cooking for the family and any guests who managed to find the small resort. She is convinced her life and career are over. Then comes the news that a VW bus has been found buried deep under a local farmer’s field complete with the skeletons of two people. As the only reporter within miles Jimm has a scoop and she makes the most of it. At police headquarters she meets Lieutenant Chompu, an intelligent officer who has been relegated to this remote region because he is gay. Jimm and Chompu team up to investigate the VW van case. Then an abbot is murdered in a nearby Buddhist temple and Jimm is in crime journalist heaven. Grandad Jah also proves useful in these investigations. He was a traffic cop for 40 years but only because he refused to take bribes; he actually has a sharp mind for investigations.The cast of minor characters is chock full of interesting people. Arny is a body builder with a heart of marshmallow. Mair may be going senile but she still has enough wits to frighten the local villain into going straight. The Buddhist nun who lives at the temple used to be a renowned singer before she gave up that life to follow her one great love into religious life. The title comes from a speech that George W. Bush made in 2004: “Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat.” Each chapter in this book is headed up by a Bush quote and each is as profound as that one. They also have some connection to what happens in the ensuing chapter and it is really fun to figure out Cotterill’s meaning. Jimm took a course on public speaking and had to do a final paper on Bush’s style so she is an expert on his speeches. Personally I think Cotterill heard or read that speech and decided to build a book around it. Who could resist?
  • (4/5)
    This book, by the author of the Dr. Siri mysteries, took me by surprise at first. It takes place in present-day Thailand, with a young female protagonist, Jimm Juree. At first I was a bit thrown off by Jimm’s character, written with more gushing female teenager angst than I would expect from someone who is supposed to be older. But once I accepted the style of the writing, I was hooked on the nutty plot and knew I was immersed in a Cotterill novel. As always, the ancillary characters—family members, police officers, monks, dogs—are given full steam and allowed to develop at their own paces. And Cotterill includes some hilariously witty political quotations (like the book title itself), all of which are apropos to the story. Well done. I eagerly look forward to reading the next Jimm Juree mystery.
  • (2/5)
    While I am a fan of Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri series, I couldn't get into this book. The characters, while quirky didn't ring true to me and the plot dragged. I did not get a good sense of the place or the people of the area.
  • (3/5)
    I would say closer to 3.75 stars.

    I really really wanted to like this. And by the end I did, but the beginning was so...slow. It must be hard to start a new series with new characters. Hard to step into their minds and see what they see, after yrs of doing Dr. Siri mysteries. And I feel like by the end Cotterill did get inside his new characters. So I will read the next one. But this one wasn't the best he has ever written.
  • (4/5)
    It is really hard for me to give a rating to KATWOAH; it has a lot of strong pluses, and if my opinion some significant minuses. I liked the rural Thai setting, and especially the characters, many of whom were totally charming. There are many people you want to hear from again and see what unfolds next in their lives, their relationships. I liked the humor, many clever and funny comebacks. The description of the finances of a Thai cyber cafe really resonated with me because I have asked myself the same questions after paying the equivalent of about 20 cents American for an hour online in India. There were three crimes being investigated concurrently involving two skeletons, a Buddhist Abbot, and a poisoned dog. The why and who were pretty much identified for two of them by book's end, but one was left to the speculation of our 32 year old female protagonist reporter, Juree Jimm (or was it Jimm Juree?) This is my first Cotterill, and I'll probably read the next JJ book, but I'm not sure. Each chapter was prefaced with a flub by President George W. Bush, and if there were ties with the contents of the chapter, they eluded me. The first two or three were amusing, but then they became grating. I have never been a GWB fan but I don't like seeing a former President picked on and ridiculed to that extent. And frankly some of his quotes were very apropos for the audience being addressed. CC had a few of his own incomprehensible lines (at least they were to me), e.g., "The last of our food order arrived passing our hopes on the way which were heading at speed out of the window." There were at least half a dozen Bushisms which seemed to make more sense than that.
  • (4/5)
    This book had one of the funniest crime scene discoveries I've read in a long time. The book in infused with subtle humor throughput, it is more a character based mystery but it got kind of confusing with all the characters and places with unfamiliar names.
  • (4/5)
    Author of the wonderfully eccentric Dr. Siri Paiboun of 1970s Laos, Cotterill has staked out new territory in the time and country in which he lives--contemporary Thailand. The protagonist is Jimm Juree, a 34 year old female crime reporter who has been uprooted from her home in northern Thailand by her crazy mother Mair who has bought a run-down wreck of a resort in the south. Trailing along are her brother Arny and her Graddad Ja; refusing to leave their original home is Sissi, Jimm’s transgendered sister, a recluse who is a computer whiz and who makes a living more or less illegally via the Internet.With a family like that, how can you go right? Sleepy though the south may be to Jimm’s great distress, suddenly one day her life brightens with the discovery of a buried 40 year old VW camper ban with two skeletons inside, driver and passenger. Thrilled to have a chance to report death and destruction again, Jimm throws herself wholeheartedly into discovering the identities of the corpses. But she is confronted with a plethora of corpses when two more show up.It’s a typical Cotterill plot and the cast of characters does its best to outdo Laos in the 70s. Gays and lesbians are rather prominently featured; Jimm befriends the gay Lieutenant Chompu and lesbians show up in various ways. Jimm herself is an edgy sort, and has the kind of dialogue one would expect of a direct lineal descendent of Dr. Siri (which she is only in the literary sense).This is a fun book, and does for modern Thailand what the Dr. Siri series does for the Laos of the 70s--give a nice look into everyday Thai life. The plot is good if nothing outstanding. There are some really predictable turns in the story, and the love interest is kind of bleh.But the great redeeming feature of the book, alone almost worth the price of purchase are the epigrams at the beginning of every chapter. They are taken from the literary and philosophical works of the 43rd President of the United States and are awe-inspiring to those of us who can read and write (and beware--we are everywhere, showing up even in the best of families). How can one not be moved by such profound philosophical insight such as:“If you don’t stand for anything, you don’t stand for anything! If you don’t stand for something, you don’t stand for anything!”or the grand historical grasp displayed in:“For a century and a half now, American and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times”, delivered on February 18, 2002 in Tokyo, underscoring to the world the depth of the then-President of the United States.Most likely the first in a series. Recommended.
  • (5/5)
    After her mother sells the family home and purchases a run-down resort in Southern Thailand, Jimm Juree gives up her adrenaline-filled career to move with her family to the small coastal village of Maprao. Jimm’s job changes from urban crime reporting to cooking and cleaning for her eccentric family and nearly, nonexistent resort guests. When Jimm hears that a local farmer has discovered a VW bus with two skeletons buried in his field, she is overjoyed with the possibility of a story to sell the press. A Buddhist monk is also found murdered at the local monastery, giving Jimm a second opportunity. With help from a local police officer and her unexpectedly resourceful family, Jimm sets to work uncovering the facts behind the crimes. Killed at the Whim of a Hat is the humorous first book in a new series by Colin Cotterill. The quirky characters, clever plotting and exotic setting will appeal to mystery readers looking for something a little different. Cotterill is also the author of the Dr. Siri Paiboun series set in 1970s Laos.
  • (5/5)
    Old Mel has hired a young man to dig a hole for a new well. All of a sudden, the boy disappears as the ground gives out from under him. He finds himself standing on a VW bus from the 1970′s. Inside the bus, are two skeletons, one with hands placed appropriately on the steering wheel.Jimm Juree, news reporter par excellence, reveals to the reader that her name is synonymous with accurate crime reporting all over Thailand. It is only a matter of time before her boss retires and she moves into his chair as senior crime reporter. She loves her job and the world is her oyster, that is, until her mother announces that she has sold their home and business to a group wanting to build a condominium. In turn, Mair has purchased a “lovely” sea side resort in the south of Thailand. The family is moving.Jimm is an optimist; she’ll find stories big city newspapers will be eager to buy. Her brother, Arny, is a competitive body builder. He is close to despair at being forced to leave the well-equipped gyms in the city but he can improvise. Granddad Jah is a man of few words who spends his days keeping track of passing cars. He will continue to track cars in a different place. “At one end of the table sat my sister, Sissi, who at one time had been my older brother, Somkiet.” Sissi has a good internet business so she is staying in place; the new location doesn’t have the modern facilities necessary to access the world wide web. But Sissi will only be a phone call away and Jimm figures that her sister’s internet skills will be invaluable as she pursues breaking news or hard hitting investigative reports. The family is still the family.For ten months, Jimm has been the cook at the resort while her mother worked in the resort shop that is stocked with items from the time the resort first opened. Arny manages the hotel and Granddad watches cars drive by. When she first arrived, Jimm had made everyone aware of her career in the newspaper business. No one sent any stories her way until Captain Kow of the local police department comes riding on his Honda to tell her of the bodies in the VW.With one big story under her belt, Jimm makes herself available to the local police and, if hanging around can get her the inside track on a story, that is only par for the course in the news business. It is in hanging around that Jimm learns of a truly big story, one that is so sensitive that there is a news blackout. There has been a murder at a local monastery.Jimm teams up with Lieutenant Chompu when it becomes apparent that someone with a great deal of influence is moving behind the scenes. The murdered abbot is a visitor, a member of the Buddhist version of an Internal Affairs department. Someone has accused Abbot Kem of being in an inappropriate relationship with the temple nun. The nun becomes the obvious suspect, the only suspect, but Jimm refuses to accept that notion. She and Chompu agree to share information although Jimm thinks it likely that the lieutenant plans that most of the sharing will be on Jimm’s part.I have been a fan of Colin Cotterill’s since the first book in the Siri Paiboun series. This first book in a new series combines a good story, a satisfying mystery, and thoroughly enjoyable characters. The book is filled with wonderful lines that sort of sneak up on the reader:When speaking of the abbot: “I needed to look into his eyes and see what his slant on all this was.”Jimm on her language skills: “I wanted to go to an English-speaking country but they were all full so they sent me to Australia.”The chapter titles are a delightful walk through the speeches of George W. Bush. And Jimm makes this observation: “If nothing else, my analysis of George W’s oratory style had taught me that a sincere countenance and a confident stance were sufficient to distract your audience from the fact that you were talking rubbish.”KILLED AT THE WHIM OF A HAT is worth reading.
  • (3/5)
    I received this book as part of the Early Reviewers program. I was not sure I was going to enjoy it when I started it. It took me some time to get into it, and I found the author's style off-putting. I think it serves up too many stereotypes of Southeast Asians. That being said, once I got into the story I enjoyed the plot, if not the style. The protagonist is a female journalist with a quirky family who moves from Chiang Mai to a small sleepy village in southern Thailand. The book opens with the discovery of a buried VW bus in the back of a local farmer's coconut grove and moves onto the murder of a Buddhist priest. Our hero has to show the corrupt and bumbling Thai police all the errors they make to solve the "crimes".The best thing I can say about this book is that the twist was unexpected until it was almost upon me. Again, because of what I perceived as a condescension toward the Thai people, I am not use I would purchase one of the author's books. That is a personal quibble, and might not be objectionable or even real in other people's opinions.
  • (4/5)
    First Line: Old Mel hired one of Da's nephews-- the slow-witted one with the dent in his forehead-- to sink a well in his back acre.Young Jimm Juree has the life she wants as a crime reporter for the Chiang Mai Daily Mail, but when her mother suddenly sells the family business, familial obligation means that Jimm follows her mother, grandfather and brother to rural southern Thailand to run a decrepit resort on the coast. How in the world is she ever going to become the first female senior crime reporter in the Chiang Mai Daily Mail's history when she lives all the way out in the sticks?Running the resort takes up a good portion of her day. Let's face it: she's not getting much help from her family. Her mother, who's showing signs of dementia, spends most of her time either restacking cans in the small giftshop or taking in stray dogs. Her grandfather, a retired traffic cop, scarcely says a word and disappears for long periods of time. Jimm's brother's life revolves around body-building and trying to find a decent gym out in the back of beyond. Only Sissi, Jimm's transgendered, former beauty pageant queen, computer hacker, former older brother had the good sense to stay in the city.It's only when a van containing the skeletal remains of two hippies is unearthed in a local farmer's field that Jimm knows this is her chance to get back to the city and the life she wants. Then when an abbot at a nearby Buddhist temple is murdered, Jimm knows she's got to solve both crimes.I love Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri mystery series, which is set in 1970s Laos and features a spry and wily septuagenarian national coroner and a marvelous cast of secondary characters. When I learned that this book was the start of a contemporary series set in Thailand, I thought that Christmas had come early. I still do.I've read other books set in Thailand. John Burdett's series features a Thai policeman with rather traditional cultural beliefs and values. Timothy Hallinan's Poke Rafferty series has an Anglo writer who's fallen in love with the Thai culture and wants to become a part of it. In Cotterill's book, we get to see Thailand from yet another perspective: that of a young, thoroughly Westernized Thai woman. Each series gives readers a different view of a fascinating country.Both the crimes in Killed at the Whim of a Hat are puzzlers. Cotterill undoubtedly planted clues throughout the book, but I didn't pick many of them up. Jimm Juree may be an amateur sleuth, but this is not what's usually termed a "cozy" mystery. In particular, the killer of the Buddhist abbot is very depraved and vicious.But this book is not just about solving mysteries. It's about a young woman coming to grips with what she really wants in life. It's about a young woman who is finally in a situation that makes her really get to know the members of her family. As a mystery, as a glimpse into life in rural Thailand, as a study of human behavior, this is an enjoyable, strong work of fiction-- even though it's not always for the faint-hearted.It's also not always for those who are easily offended. The book title and chapter headings are all quotes from our former President, George W. Bush. If you're a fan of our 43rd President's eloquence, or if you find it offensive when people in other countries poke some gentle fun at the United States, you may want to pass on this book. All the quotes do tie into the plot, the characters, and the motivations, however.Of course the immediate comparison for this book is going to be Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series set in Botswana. The only things they really have in common are a light tone, excellent casts of characters, and exotic locations. There is more depth and a more fully developed mystery in Cotterill's book.I am one very happy reader now that I have both Dr. Siri and Jimm Juree to look forward to.
  • (4/5)
    This is an interesting little cozy set in Thailand. The quirky family reminds me a lot of the Meg Langslow Mysteries by Donna Andrews. There are two mysteries in this story - who killed the abbot and how did the couple in the VW Kombi die. Jimm Juree, a Thai crime reporter who has moved with her family to a small village in southern Thailand, helps the local law enforcement solve these mysteries.I enjoyed this story and hope there will be more about these characters.
  • (4/5)
    Great mystery and I can't wait to see more of the series and will even check out some of the author's other titles. Good plotting with several red herrings that keep you guessing. I enjoyed the dialouge and the characters and the voice of the protagonist, Jimm Juree, was dry and amusing. The family and village life background kept the book moving at a good pace and introduced some great situations and people.The one thing I did notice about the book was even though the book was set in Thailand and the characters are Thai, I didn't get a real foreign feeling from the book. Not that it wasn't good, it was just that as I was going through book I was able to take the people and situations and transplant them into a small town in the midwest and everything still worked. I don't want it to seem like a complaint, because it's not, I think it just adds to the accessibility.
  • (3/5)
    Once again, I have been properly introduced to another new-to-me writer. This book was in the advance readers bin at the store and I grabbed it. I showed the book to someone I work with and she came close to snatching it out of my hand. She waxed poetic on Colin Cotterill. She said I would love his dry wit. And she was right. I liked it. The plot is quite layered. There are multiple mysteries to solve. Our narrator and her family are eccentric and quirky, a Thai version of the folks in the film "You Can't Take It With You." What am I talking about? The entire cast of characters are all off-beat and lovable. I found the writing wonderfully rich. The tiny bits of imagery that Cotterill casually tosses into his sentences are beguiling. ('swimming pool sky' is just one example) The humor flows unabated. It is furiously snarky and lightning quick. But I found it distracting at times and felt that the insistence on a minimum of at least one joke every thirty words was like quicksand to the plot. I admit that I laughed out loud at some of it. But I found that I could only take it in very small doses. I could say that this book needed to be savored and sipped, not gulped down. Cotterill deftly juggles plot and multiple sub-plots, bringing everything to a satisfying set of conclusions, all while treating the reader to some of the more memorable quotes of George W. Bush at the beginning of each chapter. (The inclusion of Dubya was mystery in itself... and the answer revealed in layers like everything else) This is not a book I would have chosen on my own, were I browsing the "New in Mystery" section. But I do believe that I will have to take a look at some of Cotterill's other books while I wait for the next Jimm Juree to hit the shelves.
  • (3/5)
    For some years Colin Cotterill has been delighting mystery readers with his Dr. Siri Paiboun series, set in communist-era Laos. The only coroner in Laos during the 1970s, Dr. Paiboun relies on his medical skills, sharp intellect and knowledge of both Lao indigenous culture and Communist party politics to solve the murders he finds on his coroner’s slab. Faithful followers of Dr. Paiboun will be very interested to know that Cotterill has begun a new series set in Thailand. I believe they will be both surprised and pleased.Crime reporter Jimm Juree, to her dismay, finds herself removed from urban Chiang Mai and living in the rural south of Thailand in order to support her mother’s decision to give the family a new start by operating a rundown seaside resort. The household ménage consists of a mother who seems to be on the verge of Alzheimer’s, a brother whose response to be being bullied throughout his school years has resulted in his being a muscle-bound contender for various Thai body building championships and a retired, non-communicative grandfather, a former cop relegated to traffic control for most of his career because of his refusal to take bribes. The last family member is Jimm’s former brother, now his sister, who has had sexual re-assignment surgery and is now a reclusive webhound still living back in Chiang Mai.Jimm struggles to find a way to stay connected to her crime reporting career and sees no hope in this rustic backwater. But when a farmer digging a well finds a buried Volkswagen van with driver and passenger still in the their seats, she finally has something she might be able to peddle to the Bangkok dailies. While working hard on this case, the abbot of a nearby monastery is murdered and Jimm is surprisingly assisted by her heretofore silent grandfather. Soon, she has her musclebound brother (who is actually a very gentle soul) accompanying her in her investigations and her hacker sister doing critical online research. Comparisons have been made to Alexander McCall Smith’s series set in Botswana and there are some similarities. But, Jimm Juree’s world is more chaotic, more absurd and perhaps even more comical. Thoughts about Cotterill’s earlier Laotian series faded as I got caught up in the twists and turns of Jimm Juree’s cases. This first in a proposed series is quite unique, has a comfortably complex plot with enough bad guys to go around, is set in an interesting locale (the narrow neck of southern Thailand) and has endearing characters that surely will show up in future volumes. By the way, each chapter is headed by a George W. Bush malapropism, one of which lends itself to the title of this book. Cheers for more of the Dr. Siri Paiboun series and cheers for more of Jimm Juree as well.
  • (4/5)
    Killed at the Whim of a Hat is a whimsical tale of mystery, with a large dollop of unconventional family for support for Jimm and the entertainment of the reader. Moved to a backwater town at the whim of her mother, Jimm, crime reporter, manages to become involved in solving two crimes introducing a fanciful cast of characters along the way.Although this is definitely a setup for a continuing series, the story is good.enough to make me want to read more.Comparisons to The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency are not warranted, except only to compare the quality of the writing.
  • (3/5)
    Murder mystery set in current day Thailand. Jimm Juree, female crime reporter, is a likeable character with a great detective mind who solves 2 murder mysteries in Maprao, her new home by the sea. Great secondary characters including local police lieutenant Chompu, her grandfather Jah, a retired police officer, her computer genius transgender sister and on the verge of dementia mother. Interesting setting as I knew nothing about Thailand when I started the book. Great summer read. LOVED the George W. Bush quotes that started each chapter and gave the book its name.
  • (5/5)
    Think of all the positive ways to describe a great murder mystery and combine them with all the positive ways to describe a comedy: you get "gruesome" and "suspenseful" plus "hilarious", "witty", and "uproariously funny". This book combines all the best aspects of two well-loved genres and is by far the best story I've read in a very long time. Our protagonist, Jimm Juree, who by the end of the book seems more like a dear friend than someone introduced a mere 379 pages ago, has a unique charm and a fantastic sense of humor. She describes everything with the cynicism of one who has been ripped out of her home and dumped in the middle of nowhere. Her sense of humor gets a great workout when paired in witty banter with the humor of local police Lieutenant Chompu. With the help of Jimm's family, they solve the mystery of a murdered Abbot. Her family seems, at first glance, to be comprised of disillusioned but nonetheless contented individuals who by the end of the novel have so much personality that it's hard not to want to be a member of the family or at least a part of their eccentric community. The community plays a relatively small role, mainly the part of the drowsy setting from which unexpected murders emerge; but despite the constant reminders of its pitfalls and shortcomings, Maprao (and nearby Pak Nam and Lang Suan) seems like just another small town anywhere with a richly diverse group of close-knit neighbors, though perhaps with more humorous inhabitants than most normal towns. There are decidedly political and religious aspects of this book, which neither enhance nor detract from it's perfection but rather discreetly and quickly explain the background of Thai culture and society. I went into this book with no knowledge of Thailand and, while this book was far from a tour guide, I feel like I've been there. The fictional world of Jimm Juree created by Colin Cotterill in Killed at the Whim of a Hat was hard to leave, making this an impossible-to-put-down read that I would recommend to anyone and everyone.
  • (4/5)
    I received this little ER gem of a book and to say that I was intrigued by a book set in Southern Thailand is putting it mildly.One of the great joys of reading is the opportunity to be transported to another place or time. And, since the reality of my actually traveling to Thailand is remote at best, this book lead the way. Surprisingly for a mystery, I was amazed at the great sense of humor found throughout. So, for me this book became a real page turner. While the characters in the book were fascinating, I did find they pushed the limits in terms of, "Isn't there one normal person here? Everyone seems to be a little bit out of whack. That aside, the characters were well portrayed the setting was appealing and the plot was complicated enough for a mystery. When I think back on the book, a VW bus buried, a monk in a hat, a painting nun, a mysterious mother, I just have to laugh!The one thing that put me off was the device of beginning each chapter with a quote, a misstatement, of President George W Bush. Although the quotes were quite humorous, they certainly raised the question why are they continuing chapter after chapter. The title Killed at the Whim of a Hat, was actually based on a Bush quote, still there was no need to keep them coming.Based on the humor, humility and likability of Jimm the main character, I hope this is the first in many of a new crime series.
  • (4/5)
    Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin CotterillMy first comment is to say that it seems to me that those reviewers who are comparing this to Alexander McCall Smith’s The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series have read neither series and do a disservice to both. The series do have a few things in common. They both take place in foreign countries; they both feature likeable, female crime solvers and they are both immensely readable. There the similarities end. Mma Ramotswe is traditional – both in build and in philosophy. Jimm Juree is thoroughly modern – small, with a sarcastic sense of humor.This second series character of Cotterill's, crime reporter Jimm Juree, is as enjoyable as his first, the 70 yr old Thai State Coroner, Dr. Siri Paiboun. In one of her university courses Juree took a class called Public Oration and Oral Improvisation during which she had to study the oratory skills of President G. W. Bush. In one instance he “fell off the edge of the teleprompter” and was caught between “on a whim” and “at the drop of a hat”. He ended up with the terrorists killing each other “at the whim of a hat”. Juree is reminded of this when she suddenly realizes that an orange hat plays an important part in the crime she is investigating. As she tries to get herself out of a sticky spot of bother with two police detectives sent down from the capital she thinks her course hadn’t been entirely in vain… “If nothing else, my analysis of George W.’s oratory style had taught me that a sincere countenance and a confident stance were sufficient to distract your audience from the fact that you were talking rubbish.” And so, she wings her way out of difficulty.Each chapter begins with a quote from Bush and you come to realize that they don’t seem so outlandish in a society where reality has little to do with official positions. Jimm comments that the Thai police are always willing to call a death a suicide – in order to cover all bases. Two bodies buried in a VW van, someone shot four times in the chest over a twenty minute period, a head in a plastic bag suspended on a rope from a bridge – all definitely suicide. (And it helps keep the crime rate down!)The members of Jimm’s family are there, certainly a bit on the eccentric side, but by the end of the book you love them all as well as Police Lieutenant Chompu with whom she solves the case(s).I was nervous when I began reading Killed at the Whim of a Hat, because I really loved the series with Dr. Siri and Cotterill ranked up there as one of my favorite writers. I didn’t want to be disappointed! By the time I finished the book I was extremely happy and I’m looking forward to more books about Jimm. BUT I don’t want the series with Dr. Siri to come to an end, so I hope for more of both.
  • (4/5)
    Jimm Juree is 32 years old and has recently moved from a modern city of Chiang Mai, Thailand to a beach side town barely out of the stone age in an area known as Maprao. She was a crime reporter for a major newspaper when her mother decided to sell the family home and business and buy a small, run down beach resort in southern Thailand. Jimm now lives there with her mother, grandfather, and younger brother and is not happy to be removed from civilization. But, wait, a farmer digging a well unearths a VW bus with two skeletons calmly sitting inside like they were waiting for a light to change. Here is her chance to get back into the modern world. Being the only journalist for a hundred miles can have its perks. Following leads and meeting local policemen eventually gives her the realization it may not be so bad to live there. "Something had changed inside me. I began to understand why everyone within a twenty-kilometer radius was an idiot. It was for the same reason that you could live in a condominium room for years and not know that your next door neighbor was stacking body parts in his refrigerator. Ignorance breeds ignorance. If you want the world to be as narrow as your mind, you can make it so. I'd assumed I was superior to everyone in Maprao so I hadn't seen a need to confirm my status by actually talking to people. The odd thing was, once you got to know them you realized there was more common sense around you than in a whole city full of educated but suffocating people. Certainly more than in a barrel-load of monkey politicians. Living their lives wasn't desperation for the Mapraoans, it was a sensible choice for a very proud people."The cast of characters is wonderful. Her older brother (now sister) is an aging transsexual who remained shuttered and housebound in the city and is making a career out of computer hacking (very handy talent for her sister). Her younger brother has always been painfully shy and is unable to overcome the shyness no matter how much body building he does. Now away from modern gyms, he has to resort to rolling logs on the beach for his workout. Jimm's grandfather had a long career as a parking police but has an amazingly keen investigative mind and her mother seems to be sliding into senility with her antics.The juxtaposition of a modern, educated, intelligent woman who finds herself stranded with only a cell phone to connect her to her previous life and the rustic, remote, and stunningly beautiful area on the Gulf of Siam is a delightful premise for a new detective series. Each chapter is headed by a Bushism, one of President G.W. Bush's legendary misspeaks, because Jimm took a course in oratory for her master's degree and had G.W. for her subject. Luckily for us, there are enough of these to head the chapters of many more future episodes to entertain us.