Killed At The Whim Of A Hat: A Jimm Juree Novel
- Quercus Publishing Plc
- Publication Date:
- 01 September 2011
- Crime, Thrillers and Mystery
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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