by: David Casarett
Ladarat Patalung, nurse ethicist, widow, amateur sleuth? At the Sriphat Hospital in Chang Mai, Thailand, Ladarat is approached by a local detective to help solve a potential case of murder. A woman brought her husband to the emergency room where he then passed away. This is nothing strange in a hospital; however, what is strange is that a staff member thinks they’ve seen that same woman come in before, but with a different husband who also died just as suddenly! As a nurse ethicist, Ladarat has a gift for communication and empathy, two talents she employs to great effect to solve this mystery.
Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness is a light, cozy mystery with an exotic setting. Beyond the intriguing mystery of the woman with multiple dying husbands, there are also a number of smaller mysteries in the hospital that Ladarat uses her skills to solve. While there were a number of storylines happening at once, the author handles them all quite well and the story never feels disjointed. What made this book a stand out for me was the connection it had to Thai culture. There was a lot of description of Thai food, Thai phrases, and my favourite, the different types of Thai smiles. Each smile has a Thai name and description that make it easy to envision exactly what facial expression is happening in the scene. These added tidbits throughout the story were so fun to read.
Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness is a good read for fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Strong female characters, exotic setting, and mystery solving based on human character rather than forensics are all characteristics of both series that make for a cozy, enjoyable read.