Nurse ethicist Ladarat Patalung and Detective Wiriya Mookjai are still basking in the afterglow of their successful investigation in Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness. Although Ladarat is in the middle of scouring records to ensure that all the patients who died in her hospital had the dignity of a "good death," the detective believes he's found another case and wants her help. Wealthy foreign travelers are disappearing all over Thailand, and he's worried that a killer is at large. When the two discover that the missing tourists have nothing in common except for short stays at a resort known as the Magic Grove Hotel, Ladarat agrees to investigate.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness, and looked forward to this one with a great deal of anticipation. Unfortunately, The Missing Guests of the Magic Grove Hotel was a bit of a disappointment. The characters and the setting are still strong, and the mysteries are intriguing, but this second book in the series really needed more editing and tightening up.
The mysteries took forever to get moving-- mainly due to the fact that too much emphasis was placed on food in the first half. Casarett has definitely tickled my taste buds with his descriptions of Thai food, but having Ladarat attempt to learn to cook was overkill. Once all the food descriptions stopped, the pace picked up and my flagging interest was re-engaged.
There were also too many mysteries to solve: drugged bus passengers, a smuggling ring, tourists disappearing from a strange hotel, a doctor who's acting strangely... and why are so few people dying in the palliative care unit of the hospital? When there are so many investigations screaming for attention, they oftentimes do not get all the attention they deserve, and that's what happened here.
Yes, The Missing Guests of the Magic Grove Hotel does have a problem or two, but I'm still looking forward to the next book. There is a wit and humor and gentleness in these two books that just plain makes me feel good. Learning about all the many variations of Thai smiles and feeling good are two excellent reasons to keep reading, don't you agree?
The Missing Guests of the Magic Grove Hotel by David Casarett
Redhook Books © 2017
Paperback, 384 pages
Cozy Mystery, #2 Ethical Chiang Mai Detective Agency mystery
Source: Purchased from The Poisoned Pen.