Top positive review
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Alexander McCall Smith delivers again
on 2 March 2009
Occasionally I can't sleep because I lie in bed worrying. This always bemuses my husband, who usually offers well intentioned but essentially useless 2am advice like "think nice thoughts". Better advice would be to pick up one of the books in the "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series. They are "warm fuzzy" reading, set in a dreamlike Botswana where the sun always shines, people have plenty of time to talk to one another and nothing gets in the way of a good cup of tea.
This is the 10th book in this delightful series. If you are new to it, count yourself lucky at the treats that you have in store, but be aware that it is best to read the books in order. (Apparently Alexander McCall Smith is contracted to write 14, so there will be more). The title refers to Mma Ramotswe, with her love of tea and her pride in her large build which some may call fat, but which she prefers to refer to as "traditionally built". While Mma Ramotswe is the central heroine, McCall Smith is now juggling a large and disparate cast of characters, each with their own dramas. Essentially this series is a soap opera - while ostensibly about a private detective, the mysteries are only a small part of the books. I was lucky enough to see Alexander McCall Smith talking about this book and he cheerfully said that he takes pride in the fact that nothing happens in his books, being of the view that there is quite enough happening in the world without authors adding to it.
Of course saying that nothing happens is an exaggeration. In this instalment, Mma Ramotswe's tiny white van has finally broken down, seemingly for good. Meanwhile Charlie the apprentice is dealing with a young lady who is claiming that her baby is his responsibility. Mma Rakutsi (Mma Ramotswe's assistant) is still engaged to Phuti Radiphuti, but Violet Sephotho plays a major role as she gets a job in the Double Comfort furniture store with the sole aim of moving in on him for herself. And as ever, between solving cases Mma Ramotswe gives lovely little reflections on ethics and best detective practices.
This is a lovely book which lives up in every way to its predecessors. My only regret is that I now have to wait a year for the next.