Trouble in Rooster Paradise is a fun mystery set in 1950 Seattle and in 2003 in a Seattle area injury rehab center. 83 year old retired shamus (private detective) Gunnar Nilson is laid up in 2003 in a nursing home with a busted gam (leg). Josephine Tey used a similar gambit in The Daughter of Time, which led me into a lifetime study of Richard III, 15th century King of England. Hopefully author T.W. Emory will write more books featuring Nilson.
One of Gunnar’s caregivers, a twenty-something young lady named Kirsten, takes a shine to him (likes him as a friend) and gets him to talk about his career. Gunnar starts his tale with the story with a series of murders in 1950 Seattle. Gunnar had survived WWII and had resumed his career as a private eye after the war. This case revolves around the rich and famous of Seattle as well as the city’s early fashion industry (and gorgeous dames). Fashion models are being murdered. Why and by whom? Gunnar’s investigation takes him to the mansions of The Highlands (a gated community for the wealthy) and the dives and bars of midtown Seattle. Gunnar is hired by one of wealthy citizens he ends up investigating.
In an era before personal electronic devices, it is wondrous to watch Gunnar as he travels around Seattle, using phone booths (with working phones!) to communicate with the various characters. He has a secretary reminiscent the women with whom the great writers of this genre in the 1930s and 1940s populated their stories.
Gunnar lives in a boarding house (before there was AIRBNB) with his landlady, a former burlesque queen; her nephew, Sven; and Walter, a friend, who was severely burned in the war and who paints lead soldiers as a business. Walter is also helping Mrs. Berger (the proprietor of the boarding house) to write a play about her career. He aids Gunnar in his tracking down of the shysters (bad guys).
Not only is this a fine mystery, it is also a look into Seattle’s mid-twentieth century lifestyle and history. I urge you to read this.
GO! BUY! READ!
–Jim Harris, retired book sales rep
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