BookBrowse Reviews Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill

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

    Readers' Opinion:

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

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book



The first novel in a humorous crime series set in Thailand

Cotterill's wry, irreverent sense of humor is a drone missile that quietly cruises from page to page, taking no prisoners. In varying degrees, everybody and everything is fair game. In short, this is my kind of book. So much so that while reading it I stopped several times to recite passages aloud to my husband.

To begin at the top, the book's title is from a speech given by George W. Bush in 2004 in which he said, " societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat." Clearly Cotterill is a fan of the volume of malapropisms that has come to be known as "George Bushisms." This particular gem, as explained by protagonist Jimmy Juree, is where Bush had "fallen off the edge of the teleprompter again and he was caught somewhere between 'on a whim' and 'at the drop of a hat' and ended up with terrorists killing one another."

I couldn't have said it better if I tried, but that's the point; thirty-four year-old, currently unemployed Thai journalist Jimm Juree says everything better than I could - even on my best days - and notably better than many of her fictional counterparts in the humorous novel arena. Her first person narrative is sharp and savvy and altogether winning. Because, when it comes to sardonic humor, few can hold a cynical candle to a seasoned crime beat journalist. Especially one who was a mere heart attack away from "the senior crime reporter's leather chair," until she was unceremoniously removed from the running. Thus Jimm feels stunted, altogether stymied by her mother's decision to uproot the family, taking them from the joyously crime-riddled city of Chiang Mai to a nowheresville resort village along the southern coast of Thailand. With the exception of Jimm's older, transgender, ex-beauty queen sister, Sissi, the whole family is going. Mair (mother); younger brother, Arny; Granddad Jah; and Jimm set up shop at the Gulf Bay Lovely Resort and Restaurant, which is "a dump" in Jimm's words.

Bitterness over the forced move colors Jimm's feelings about her new home, referring to the South's inhabitants as unimaginative and the locale as mosquito-infested and boggy. Here the scribe-turned-kitchen-help does not suffer her new position gracefully. Until. Until the day that Old Mel discovers a buried VW van - complete with the skeletal remains of two corpses - on his farm. Jimm's life brightens. Then a few days later a monk is found murdered, donning a malapropos orange hat. Well. Life couldn't be better. Because, thank god, local police are as inept as those in Chiang Mai, and Jimm springs at the chance to unleash her prodigious crime solving skills, waking them from their nine month-long stasis.

Back at the newspaper her boss had once wanted to move her from covering crime to politics. She declined, reasoning that, "in Thailand, murder and theft and violence were tangible. Politics was all smoke and mirrors and, basically, silly." No silliness here. Not when there are business moguls (synonymous with "crime bosses" in Jimm's view) to take down and truth to be exposed in the most deliciously insolent manner possible.

In the grand cosmic scheme of humorous fiction this book rates a respectable 4 stars out of 5, but in my personal collection, it rates a 5.

Reviewed by Donna Chavez

This review was originally published in September 2011, and has been updated for the May 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.
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

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Winter Soldier
    The Winter Soldier
    by Daniel Mason
    Imagine the thousands of confounding cases doctors face routinely for which diagnoses are hard to ...
  • Book Jacket: Brother
    by David Chariandy
    Brother is the brief, moving account of how a single, tragic moment in time can alter the course of ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Islamic Enlightenment
    by Christopher de Bellaigue
    In this comprehensive and well-researched history, de Bellaigue examines the evolution of Islamic ...
  • Book Jacket: The Spy of Venice
    The Spy of Venice
    by Benet Brandreth
    Benet Brandreth's delightfully diverting historical thriller brings the Bard to vibrant life. ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Removes by Tatjana Soli

A powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Sold on a Monday
    by Kristina McMorris

    An unforgettable novel inspired by a stunning piece of history.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House. On sale Oct 9.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

T Turn T S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & 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.