The Amok Runners by Colin Cotterill

I first discovered Colin Cotterill’s novels via his series featuring Dr Siri Paiboun, the national coroner of Laos.  I’ve read every novel so far.  One day, I picked up another Colin Cotterill novel.  This one featured Jimm Juree, a former Thai crime reporter, and three novels have so far been published in this series.  ‘The Amok Runners’ is a prequel to the Jimm Juree series.

The Amok Runners by Colin Cotterill

‘We were on the veranda, stoned.’

For those who’ve read any of Colin Cotterill’s previous Jimm Juree mysteries, this is a prequel to the series.  Jimm’s mother has not yet bought her rundown resort on the Gulf of Siam, so that aspect of the setting isn’t featured.  In this novel, Jimm, Sissy and Arnie are all on a movie set.   Jimm is a journalist and has got her editor’s agreement to a story about a day in the life of a movie extra.   The movie is supposed to take place in Siam in 1650, and will be the latest movie to star Dan Jensen, a toothy American superstar.  Yes, it is intended to be a realistic portrayal of 17th century Siam, but (of course) the movie won’t sell without an America star.  Sissy has managed to get Arnie and Jimm roles as extras in the movie.  Extras?  Yes, there are extras playing soldiers running amok and being killed.  It’s dead easy.

And because it’s dead easy, the trio have extra time to help their pink-skirt- wearing Burmese historian friend Khin Tein Aye look for the lost treasure of the 13th century King Mangrai.  So Jimm is perfectly placed to investigate when things start going wrong on the movie set.

Like all of Colin Cotterill’s novels, this is full of humour and quirky characters.  There’s a film star who falls in love with one of the trio, and plenty of action.  It’s fun, too, to get some more of the Jimm Juree backstory.  While I much prefer the Dr Siri series to Jimm Juree (sorry, Jimm), Jimm and her family and their adventures are starting to grow on me.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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