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This article offers a study of a crime series written by Colin Cotterill (b. 1952), between 2004 and 2020, featuring Dr. Siri Paiboun, the national coroner of the Lao PDR in the late 1970s. It first focuses on the series’s palimpsestuous relation with the detective fiction of Georges Simenon (1903-1989), published between 1931 and 1972, whose main character is Inspector Jules Maigret of the French Criminal Investigation Division. Afterwards, a critical intersection of Gérard Genette’s concept of hypertextuality and Homi K. Bhabha’s notions of mimicry and hybridity establishes the Siri Paiboun series as a hypertext upon which the hypotext of Inspector Maigret has been grafted. Nonetheless, the study problematizes the palimpsestuous relation of the two series, contending that the Siri Paiboun series operates as a site where colonial mimicry deviates from and later disrupts the authority of colonial discourse epitomized by the convention of French police novels. The generic disjuncture, termed as hybridity (Bhabha, 2007), it is argued, manifests an attempt to engage French detective fiction within a different cultural context. Traversing national divides, the British author makes use of the genre, first, to delegitimize its colonial authority by questioning the status of Simenon’s series as a model of roman policier, and, second, to criticize the Lao dysfunctional judicial system while his Belgian predecessor seeks to endorse the institutional authority of the French police force, whereby crimes are punished and the rule of law is upheld.
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