The best books to read whilst awaiting radiology and/or death

Colin Cotterill Author Of The Coroner's Lunch
By Colin Cotterill

Who am I?

When you write a book, it’s natural to put yourself in it. You’re the avenger, the rookie agent, the hard-drinking detective. But how many of us volunteer to be the corpse? I sit here every day in the cancer unit at a public Thai hospital and smile at folks who won’t be around much longer. I wrote fifteen books in a series about a coroner. I painted the victims colorfully when they were still alive but how much respect did I show them once they were chunks of slowly decaying meat? From now on my treatment of the souls that smile back at me will take on a new life.


I wrote...

The Coroner's Lunch

By Colin Cotterill,

Book cover of The Coroner's Lunch

What is my book about?

The Coroner's Lunch follows the fortunes of Dr. Siri Paiboum, a Paris-trained Lao doctor, who joined the communist party and has been fighting with the Pathet Lao. Siri is informed that he is now the state's only coroner. With the help of one nurse, Dtui, and Geung, who has Down's Syndrome they shuffle along adequately and happily. Until the wife of an important official turns up dead. The husband claims that his wife died of food poisoning but his vision of the dead woman's spirit convinces Siri that she was murdered. Before he can investigate, he's called upon to perform another autopsy (with serious international consequences), and investigate a series of bizarre deaths. Suddenly it seems to be raining dead bodies for the unqualified coroner and his ill-equipped lab.

The books I picked & why

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Forensic Medicine

By Keith Simpson,

Book cover of Forensic Medicine

Why this book?

I thought I should include a book you have no chance of finding without dredging the second-hand book warehouses in Hay, Wales. (Which is where I found it). Like my protagonist, I had no idea about forensic medicine. But I couldn’t begin my studies in this day and age of CSI and DNA. I had to find a textbook that my Dr. Siri might use to solve cases back in the seventies. This was it, plus hundreds of gruesome photos for your coffee table. Like a true scientist, Dr. Simpson affords the dead not a shred of dignity.  

Forensic Medicine

By Keith Simpson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forensic Medicine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Good reference. Many photos, some pretty gruesome. Shipped in cardboard mailer.


Whispers of the Dead

By Simon Beckett,

Book cover of Whispers of the Dead

Why this book?

Nobody does gore with more charm than the British, and Becket loves his blood and guts. His victims are barely recognizable. But I selected this novel mainly for its setting at a body farm. I have a card in my wallet offering my organs when I have no further use for them. But the farm is peopled with volunteer cadavers; those who have agreed to donate their bodies for forensic studies. Offering up a live heart is one thing. But you’d have to sign off ownership of the whole kit and kaboodle to science once that heart stops beating. It’s nice to think my body has some use when I’m done with it.

Whispers of the Dead

By Simon Beckett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whispers of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Menacing, beautifully paced' Daily Mail

Inspired by Beckett's visit to the world-renowned Body Farm in Tennessee

A serial killer is at work, and the death toll is rising . . .

The victim has been bound and tortured, the body decomposed beyond recognition.

Then a second body is found. A nightmare is about to begin.

Once a brutal abduction takes place, it becomes a terrifying race against time for forensic expert David Hunter . . .


Critical

By Robin Cook,

Book cover of Critical

Why this book?

If only half of Cook’s medical exposures were true, we would probably never voluntarily go to a hospital again. But his forensic pathologists (a married couple team) go out of their way to prove him right. And in this 2008 thriller there are enough warnings about looming pandemics to make a reader wonder why covid came as such a surprise. The cadavers told us to be wary.

Critical

By Robin Cook,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Critical as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York City medical examiners Laurie Montgomery and Jack Stapleton return in this stunning new novel from the 'master of the medical thriller' (New York Times) a ripped-from-the-headlines tale of an innovative doctor's dangerous downward spiral.


Black Notice

By Patricia Cornwell,

Book cover of Black Notice

Why this book?

You don’t necessarily have to like an author to admire their grasp of the subject matter and few writers have a better slab-side manner than Cornwell. She knows her stuff and you can perhaps forgive her the smartarsery that she can’t resist. But she does go out of her way to give the victims and their families closure. 

Black Notice

By Patricia Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Notice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this #1 New York Times bestseller Dr. Kay Scarpetta is on a deadly mission that will pull her in two opposite directions: toward protecting her career or toward the truth...

Remains were all that was left of the stowaway. He arrived in Richmond's Deep Water Terminal-the ghastly cargo of a ship from Belgium. The decomposed body gives Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta no clues to its identity-or the cause of death. But an odd tattoo soon leads her on an international search to Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, France-and towards a confrontation with one of the most savage killers…


Monday Mourning

By Kathy Reichs,

Book cover of Monday Mourning

Why this book?

I’m cheating here a bit. I know Kathy and I like her a lot. Unlike me, she is a genius. I don’t need to tell any of her readers that. She is a well-respected forensic anthropologist who goes out of her way to uncover the secrets that the remains conceal. She writes about bones with the same affection we usually reserve for loved ones. I would be delighted to have her run her massive intellect over my skeleton when I’m gone.

Monday Mourning

By Kathy Reichs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monday Mourning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

___________________________________
A gripping Temperance Brennan novel from world-class forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, the international no. 1 bestselling crime thriller writer and the inspiration behind the hit TV series Bones.

Three skeletons are found in a Montreal basement.

The building is old, and the homicide detective in charge dismisses the remains as historic. Not his case. Not his concern.

Forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan is not so sure. Something about the bones of these three young women suggests a different message: murder.

Soon she finds herself drawn ever deeper into a web of evil from which there may be no escape.…


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