Tag Archives: Botswana

*** Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith

The latest installment in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Precious and Grace stars a lost dog, a revengeful Canadian who was born in Botswana and is looking for her roots, and sober reflections on Mma Makutsi’s pushy maneuverings. As always, Mma Ramotswe will untangle everything through a mix of careful observations and random luck. A perfect reflection on the fallibility of memories.

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*** The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith


The latest installment in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café is full of action and developments: a new business, a firing, and a hiring, and a new client who is hiding the truth. There are plenty of management lessons, and a large-scale, empathic revisiting of Mma Ramotswe’s first, violent marriage. How far she has come!

A good way to spend that first chilly (chilly for us Californian cold wimps) Fall weekend.

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*** The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith

Precious Ramotswe returns in The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, another installment of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, with a baby for her assistant, or associate as she likes to call herself, a mysterious nephew, and a jealous competitor to the beauty salon of the title. With Ramotswe’s husband learning to be a modern husband, we have a story with lots of enjoyable asides on marriage and parenthood.

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*** The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith

Precious Ramotswe is back in The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency with, gasp!, a lot of action together with the usual delightful prattle of everyday life and observations. This time, one of the mechanic of her husband’s garage is arrested, her associate’s husband is being robbed by his contractor, and her orphanage director friend is fired, but Precious will restore order and justice, aided by the good and honest people of Botswana.

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*** The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith

The latest installment in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series is a delight (and Mma Makutsi finally gets married, per the title!) Along the way we get sweet and not so sweet stories of Botswana, including, on the not-sweet side, the negotiation of Mma Makutsi’s bride price and the keeping of mistresses by rich men, easily overcome by the abundance of kind people and kind deeds.

As usual, nothing much happens, and one chapter even starts with this sentence, “The next few days were marked by the fact that virtually nothing happened.” It could be the book summary, and yet it’s such a treat to read the whole thing.

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The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith

The Double Comfort Safari Club is the latest installment of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series and I’m so happy to report that it’s much, much better than the last installment and back to the series’ peak form. I was hooked from the start when the author, setting the scene, describes the Limpopo River, which for me means my grandmother retelling Kipling’s Just So Stories about the Elephant’s Child going “to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees”. Brought me back 40+ years!

No elephant in this book, child or grownup, but the usual set of characters, the usual slow tales (at this rate, I’m afraid Mma Makutsi will never marry!), and always the soft comments about Botswana that may or may not be true but delight the reader. This time, the description of the favors done to relatives and friends and how boundless hospitality can still be tallied and exchanged while keeping to traditional ways. A delicious two-hour pleasure.

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Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander Mc Call Smith

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built is the umpteen (10th, I checked!) book in the Number One Ladies Detective Agency Series that I have enjoyed very much (see here) and I’m afraid to say that perhaps the author is losing his grip just a tad. Beautiful Botswana is still there, the sweet marriage between Mma Ramotse and her mechanic husband is still there, the wacky clients are still there (my favorite this time: the woman with too many “husbands” who needs help untangling the surfeit) but this book just sounds a tad too commercial. Mma Makutsi, Mma Ramotse’s assistant with a mind of her own, has turned strident; the soccer case they take on sounds tailored to attract soccer moms; and the new mechanic’s angelic support of his struggling family also appears to have been suggested by a focus group.

Still, there are some delightful passages including Mma Ramotse’s adopted son’s delight at attending a professional soccer game (I could really picture him, clutching his soccer ball and looking up at his heroes) and the usual quota of apparently mundane statements that have more depth than appears at first. My favorite this time was this, “There were times when Mma Makutsi made statements that suffered from that classic flaw of all generalizations — they were just too general.”

I will approach the next installment with careful optimism.

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