Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness by David Casarett
Review by Lauren
source: copy from BEA16; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Two nights ago, a young woman brought her husband into the emergency room of the Sriphat Hospital in Thailand, where he passed away. A guard thinks she remembers her coming in before, but with a different husband – one who also died.
Ladarat Patalung, for one, would have been happier without a serial murderer-if there is one — loose in her hospital. Then again, she never expected to be a detective in the first place.
And now, Ladarat has no choice but to investigate…
Review: This was a book I picked up at BEA16. I can’t remember how I came across it, though I imagine it was a simple book drop that I came across and realizing it was a mystery, I grabbed a copy. I’m a huge fan of mysteries because I love following the case, whether I guess the culprit or piece it all together or not.
Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness is the first book in a new series which follows a nurse ethicist in Thailand named Ladarat Patalung. She’s an intriguing character, having lost her husband 12 years prior and still living alone with only her cat. She loves her job and is very committed though. I loved that the book was set in Thailand though, as I don’t believe I’ve read another book set in this country. The author did a great job not only describing the hospital and its functions, but also the language, the people, and certainly the food. There is the use of Thai throughout the book, but it is always explained and therefore, I never felt confused or lost while reading the book.
As for the mystery in this one, Ladarat is approached by a detective at the hospital she works at concerning what he believes could be murder. A woman had brought her husband into the emergency room of Ladarat’s hospital the night before, where he was declared dead and his death certificate signed. The woman left and that was it, except someone who worked at the hospital thought he had seen this same woman bringing her dead husband in a few months previous, at a different hospital. Is it the same woman, and is she marrying and killing off men? What could she gain? And how would they find her?
It’s not known until near the end of the book while the detective enlists Ladarat’s help, besides her being the nurse ethicist of the hospital (this means she’s a nurse, yes, but she also deals with any ethical decisions the hospital may face), but I promise there is an answer. It’s nothing huge, but it does make Ladarat even more determined to continue her detective work at the end of this novel. However, back to the initial story – there is a lot going on in this book besides the mystery, but it worked well. The author handled these various story lines with ease, weaving between them throughout the book so you were always curious what would come next, yet never confused. I thought about explaining some of this, but I think it would be best to enjoy the book without knowing too many details! Believe me, it’s worth it!
I love books where the main character is not a detective but is called upon to become one. This isn’t like cozy mysteries, where the main character makes themselves a detective. Ladarat is called upon for her help and she does waver if she should help as much as she can, or focus instead on her paying job, especially with a big inspection coming up.
One of the things that I really loved about this book is the writing style. It’s not one I can really explain, but it seemed to suit the story and most especially the character of Ladarat. I appreciated how the author talked about Thai culture and explained how it is very different in many ways to American culture, as Ladarat is often commented to be a bit American. She spent a year studying there in college, but she also seems to understand the world in a slight American way and all of this is included expertly in the story.
I definitely loved this one – five stars for sure- and I am excited to read more about Ladarat and her mysteries!