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Lives Up to the First in the Series!,
This review is from: Tears of the Giraffe: More from the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Paperback)
This second entry in Smith's Botswana-set series picks up right where the wonderful The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency left off. Indeed, the two books are utterly seamless, and it'd be a real shame to read this without reading its predecessor first. The book picks up with the engagement of "traditionally built" Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's sole woman detective, to local master mechanic Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. While the structure is the same as the first book—a missing son as the central running mystery, and some smaller cases interspersed—the new couple's relationship is the real focus.
So, while Precious is asked by an American woman to find out what happened to her son, who disappeared from a commune ten years previously, she must also negotiate the pitfalls of setting up house with Mr. Matekoni, the acquisition of an engagement ring, and the dastardly schemes of Mr. Matekoni's nasty housekeeper, and the unexpected addition of two foster children to her household. All of which she does with her keen sense of human nature and wisdom. Her secretary/typist is also given increased attention, allowed to take on the case of a cheating wife all by herself.
Built into the stories are ruminations of the tensions between modernity and traditional values. There are a number of passages that attempt to capture the essence of Africa, and how that noble vision is under constant assault by greed, corruption, and power. The adventures of Precious and her cohort are a warm antidote to the often depressing news that dominates coverage of Africa in the West. Smith writes in a delightfully fluid and simple prose with pacing that makes the book quite difficult to put down. The series thankfully continues with Morality for Beautiful Girls and The Kalahari Typing School For Men, with further volumes to follow, one hopes.