An investigative odd couple unravels the mystery surrounding a series of disappearances and more in Thailand.
Public acclaim and notoriety have found Ladarat Patalung, nurse ethicist at Sriphat Hospital, after she and Detective Wiriya Mookjai have solved a series of murders unsettling the citizens of Chang Mai (Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness, 2016, etc.). So it’s only natural that the Department of Tourism would ask Wiriya to check out a potential series of tourist disappearances, with a name, Sharon McPhiller, and a place, the Magic Grove Hotel, as starting points. When Wiriya brings the case to Ladarat for a second opinion, she’s already coping with another matter that may or may not require Wiriya’s assistance. A pair of hospital employees have come to her with the suspicion that something’s wrong with Dr. Taksin, who’s “behaving strangely, and making mistakes.” If that’s not enough intrigue to pique Ladarat’s blossoming detective’s instinct, her assistant, Sisithorn, calls unexpectedly with the news that she’s discovered a smuggling ring. (Ladarat doesn’t even know what a smuggling ring is.) Ladarat’s lively therapy dog, Chi, provides amusing distractions from her myriad efforts. Not surprisingly, the ensuing investigation follows a course full of detours that eventually lands the duo at the eponymous hotel, where the owner behaves very suspiciously indeed. The disappearance of a guest there prompts them to accelerate their probe.
Casarett’s second Chang Mai Detective Agency novel has oodles of old-fashioned charm, with an easy pace, colorful characters, and a lively curiosity for the interesting details of everyday life. Piquantly titled chapters add a soupcon of comic zest.