Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness
By David Casarett
Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness is not David Casarett’s first book – that would be the non-fiction Shocked: Adventures in Bringing Back the Recently Dead. A physician and academic, Casarett has now added crime writer to a formidable CV. Part one of a series, Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness is largely set in a hospital in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and marks the first outing for Ladarat Patalung. A diligent, solitary nurse by day (she specialises in ethics), she becomes a sleuth when an old friend, detective Wiriya Mookjai, asks for help. The spur is an apparent case of “black widowing”. A man is declared dead in the emergency room and alarm bells ring when someone remembers his attractive young wife mourning a different husband only months earlier. While the genial tone and quirky subplots invite comparisons with Alexander McCall Smith’s No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Ladarat is, perhaps, a more elegiac heroine than Mma Ramotswe. She is also, thanks to a year in Chicago, a pivot between worlds, traversing the culture schism between native Thais and American expats. If the plot doesn’t grip exactly, there are deft descriptions of Thai mannerisms, society and Ladarat’s sumptuous cooking. Part two can’t arrive soon enough.