Excerpt from Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Killed at the Whim of a Hat

A Jimm Juree Mystery, #1

by Colin Cotterill

Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2011, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2012, 384 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Here, use this," he said. "Smash your way through it."

Da's nephew stared forlornly at the tool. It was obvious some laborious mechanical process was taking place in his mind. The crowbar was getting heavy in Mel's hand.

"I'm just paid for digging," said the nephew, at last. "Nobody said nothing about smashing. That's a job for specialists, smashing is. I'm just a digger."

"Go on, boy. Look at it. It's rusted to hell. You could sneeze a hole in it."

"I don't know, Old Mel. Wear and tear on the tools. All that added time..."

This was a lesson learned for Mel. A brain dent did not necessarily affect a young man's ability to extort.

"All right, look. I'm not going to pay you to start a new well somewhere else, so why don't we just say... what? Fifty baht extra? How's that?"

There was no further discussion. The nephew began jabbing the crowbar into the metal plate with renewed enthusiasm. With the fifty baht incentive, the young man performed like a large, enthusiastic can opener. He stood at the center of the hole and gouged through the metal around him. Like Mel, he'd probably expected to be able to lift out a perfect circle of rusted metal and continue his dig south uninterrupted. He would have anticipated a firm grounding of earth beneath the metal. He probably didn't expect in his wildest and most troubling dreams to hear that teeth-grinding creak, or to have the metal upon which he stood drop like a theatrical trapdoor. He seemed to hover in midair for a split second before plummeting into the dark void beneath him.

The silence that followed stretched into the hot early morning like warm noodle dough. Crickets and songbirds held their breaths. A solitary wispy cloud hung overhead. Mel stood leaning forward slightly to look into the hole but all he could see was blackness. He didn't recall the lad's name so he couldn't call it out.

"You all right there?" he said. Then, realizing the newly opened shaft might be vastly deep he shouted the same question. "YOU ALL RIGHT?"

There was no reply.

A number of lands around the globe have what they refer to as a southern temperament. Thailand is no exception. Old Mel could surely have gone running off screaming for help. He might have beaten a pestle against the old tin tub that hung from his balcony or trekked those two kilometers to the nearest payphone. But he was a southerner. He broke off a stem of sweet grass to chew while he sat on the concrete segment and gazed into the abyss. There was a good deal to consider. Perhaps this had been a blessing in disguise. He wondered whether they'd chanced on an old well shaft. Saved themselves time. But there'd been no splash. It was probably dry. Bad luck, that.

"Young fellow?" he called again, half-heartedly.

There was still no response.

Mel wondered just how long was a suitable period of time before he should get anxious. He was in the middle of a plan. Go back to the shed. Get a rope. Tie it to the fence. Lower it into the hole, and... but there was his back problem. That wouldn't work. He'd have to call his neighbor, Gai, to -

"Old Mel."

The voice was odd, echoey, like that of a lone sardine in a tin can.

"Old Mel. You there?"

"What are you playing at down there?" Mel asked. "You stuck?"

"No, no. I had the wind knocked out of me, that's all, but I chanced lucky. I'm on... a bed."

"That's what they call concussion, boy. You need a - "

"No. I'm on a bed. Really I am."

"What makes you think so?"

"I can feel the springs."

"Plant roots, boy. Easily mistaken for bedsprings."

Mel realized that in the nephew's case, concussion wouldn't have made a lot of difference.

"All right, look, I need to fetch somebody," he said.

"You know, I can probably get myself out, Old Mel. I'm not so far from the hole. I'm looking up at it."

Excerpted from Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill. Copyright © 2011 by Colin Cotterill. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Minotaur. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Thailand's Political Turmoil

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Goodbye Days
    Goodbye Days
    by Jeff Zentner
    Guilt can be a heavy burden for anyone to manage, but it's especially difficult for teenagers. ...
  • Book Jacket: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    by Hannah Tinti
    Hannah Tinti follows her spectacular 2008 debut, The Good Thief, with a novel of uncommon ...
  • Book Jacket: Music of the Ghosts
    Music of the Ghosts
    by Vaddey Ratner
    Music of the Ghosts is about healing and forgiveness, but it is also about identity and the revival ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    No One Is Coming to Save Us
    by Stephanie Powell Watts

    One of Entertainment Weekly, Nylon and Elle's most anticipated books of 2017.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Stars Are Fire
    by Anita Shreve

    An exquisitely suspenseful novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

A few books well chosen, and well made use of, will be more profitable than a great confused Alexandrian library.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -