My 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. ( )