You may have heard of the Dilys award, the honor bestowed upon the mystery title which members of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association have most enjoyed selling in each year. The award was created in honor of Dilys Winn, founder of the first specialty bookseller in the US, and comprises a mark of particular distinction for authors and novels in the genre. Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Soho’s Colin Cotterill is among this year’s nominees.
We’re convinced the competition doesn’t have a chance. This is Cotterill’s seventh book about Dr. Siri Paiboun, the national coroner for the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos whose intense curiosity and unwillingness to back down from questions has landed him a job as a detective as well. Dr. Paiboun has gotten himself into plenty of trouble with his sharp wit and cynical viewpoint on authority, but Love Songs opens up with a situation which seems impossibly hopeless.
"I celebrate the dawn of my 74th birthday handcuffed to a lead pipe,” Dr. Paiboun says at the opening of the novel. Far from his inadequate, familiar office in Laos, the doctor has been dragged from a serial murder investigation to Cambodia. While he’s being held as a spy, the official investigations back in Laos continue, but Dr. Paibon is convinced the meager evidence collected so far points to the wrong man.
The book weaves the disparate dangers together subtly, culminating in the doctor’s discovery of the haunting, unfamiliar melody he has been humming and the true identity of the serial killer. We’re proud of Colin and Soho, and wish them luck as IMBA makes their selection!