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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 27 October 2013
This is a delightful and worthy addition to the series, returning to the characters who continue to maintain integrity, kindness and forgiveness as paramount attributes of human nature even under difficult circumstances. A radically changing world has not yet reached Gaborone, Botswana, and the book captures the daily concerns of the protagonists perfectly. Mma Precious Ramotswe is still unassuming and perceptive with the aid of her Clovis Andersen book of detective principles, needed with her experience in the cases she has to deal with in this volume. A lawyer client asks her to look into an inheritance problem. Mma Soleti has just bought and opened the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon and engages Mma Ramotswe to investigate a major obstacle she has encountered. The other development concerns 'associate detective', Mma Makutsi who eventually takes maternity leave.

These are really activities (apart from the maternal issues) that take second place to the unhurried pace of life and the laid back dry humour and wit reflected in the marvellous dialogue that occurs particularly between the two lady protagonists and the gracious Mr J.L.B. Matekoni; words and body language that need care to avoid misinterpretation but when this does happen the results are often even more amusing.

There is nothing complex in this book and the tales are of ordinary resourceful characters who collectively provide the reader with such pleasure and enjoyment with a feel-good factor, thanks to the author's excellent writing.
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Mma Makutsi has some happy news which may affect the future of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency but she seems reluctant to talk about it. Business at the agency seems quite slack but Mma Ramotswe has two puzzling cases to tackle. A new beauty salon has opened but it seems no one wants to visit it and someone is spreading lies about it. A lawyer wonders whether someone connected with a will she is administering is really who they say they are. Precious Ramotswe's husband - Mr J L B Maketoni - wants to be a good husband and decides to go to evening classes on the subject.

Can the characters adjust to new circumstances and can solutions be found for the current cases? This is a thoughtful and heart-warming story which demonstrates the author's marvellous knowledge of human nature. The writing is simple and down to earth but none the worse for that.

I enjoyed reading this fourteenth episode in the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series and it is interesting to see how the characters are growing and changing - even Charlie the apprentice mechanic - seems to be showing signs of maturity. Even the prickly Mma Makutsi is becoming just a little more mellow. Simple situations, interesting and entertaining characters and human nature at its best and at its worst - the perfect ingredients for a satisfying story.
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on 17 November 2013
This is another well-written novel within the series and, as always, there are episodes of charm, colour and nostalgic brilliance for all to enjoy. The developments in the lives of Mme Ramotswe and her friends continue to bring a big grin to my face and 2 cases investigated were interesting and fun. However, they felt very rushed towards the end, as if McCall Smith had been asked to heavily edit the book in order to reduce its size and so there was a certain hollowness to the close of the book which was rather upsetting. If it needed editing, why not just a minor adjustment?
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on 18 October 2013
I have read each book in the No. I Ladies Detective Agency and I feel I have a vested interest in all the characters in the book. This latest book has, as always, been a fun read and I love the bits of wisdom that are said by some of the characters especially our Precious and not forgetting Grace Makutsi
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 15 November 2013
I feel a little like a voice in the wilderness, but I was distinctly underwhelmed by the latest outing in this much loved series. Much like Precious Ramotswe herself over the course of the story, I felt like something was missing. It had the air of having been written to fulfil a contractual obligation for another instalment rather than having arisen from a central idea. I have rated it three stars, which to me is not a negative review, but a neutral one. It's not a terrible book at all, but nor does it sparkle with the wit and energy that other books in the series have had.

As the book opens, Mma Ramotswe is about to discover that her long term offsider Mma Makutsi is expecting a child. The baby arrives without much delay, which means that Mma Makutsi is absent for much of the novel. Mma Ramotswe has two cases to investigate: a series of threats against the proprietor of a new beauty salon, and a question over the identity of the heir to a large inheritance. The arrival of a baby also gives Mma Ramotswe and Mr J.L.B. Matekoni reason to think about their own family and the dynamics within it. There is also an appearance by Phuti Radiphuti's meddlesome aunt, which I enjoyed.

This is a sweet book, but as I mentioned above, it didn't really come to life for me. Usually I read the books in this series quite quickly, but I kept losing interest in this one. Both of the mysteries were quite predictable and for whatever reason the charm was largely absent.
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on 22 October 2013
I too am a big fan of both the author and this series, but I was a little disappointed with this book, simply because of the title that was chosen for it. I don't want to give away anything for people who haven't read it yet, so will try to be a bit 'guarded' in my criticism. The book itself was as great as all the others in this series and I don't have any criticisms about the story itself. But since the main focus of the book is not reflected by the title, I think the publisher should have given it a different title. The focus of the largest part of the book is not on the beauty salon, and the 'problem' regarding the salon is swiftly resolved only at the very end of the book in a rather quick way. It's almost as if, after writing the rest of the book, the author realized he had to hurry up & resolve the question and did it as quickly as possible. I think he could have worked the salon into the story a bit more in order to warrant having given the book this title. But Precious and her 'associate' and all the other characters are as lovable as always, and I did enjoy the book immensely.
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on 20 October 2013
Many of McCall Smith's recent books have been quite similar but this one sees a change of emphasis and a welcome return to writing that is engaging and interesting. The characters have moved on and it was amusing to see how Charlie was able to change so dramatically.
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on 1 January 2014
An easy book to read. I was a bit disappointed that many of the pages contained information from the other books, new to a new reader of these books but just repetitive for me who has read them all.
Therefore there was not a lot of room left for enough new stories for me.
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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2015
I've always enjoyed the No 1 Ladies series or rather I had until I read this book.
Whilst I don't feel that it exactly smacks of producing a book to meet contractual obligation, it simply doesn't have the 'feel' of all the previous books in the series which I have read.
I felt that it plodded and often appeared padded with a lot of irrelevancies that seemed to be there simply to meet a word count.
The characters were bland and lifeless in comparison to McCall-Smith's normal lively descriptive manner and that, for me, rather toned down the enjoyment of the book.
I even felt that the sub-plots were rather strained and, again, contrived to fill space.
Sadly this could be the last in the series that I bother with.
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on 18 November 2013
If you have not read Mr McCall Smith, why not? He writes gentle humorous stories filled with a cast of star studied characters who seemingly make the the most innocuous comments on life but at the same time can be so thought provoking. Homilies of a bygone time when respect for our, families, friends, fellow man and neighbours was once upper most in our minds ..... and he reminds of us those times in a modern day setting with Mma Ramotswe in Botswana.

The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency is in a state of flux as 'associate' Detective Mma Makutsi takes maternity leave to have her and her husband Phuti Radiphuti's first child, mind you, as usual when Mma Makutsi doesn't want to discuss something, she won't and so the fact that she is pregnant and the subject of maternity leave are not open for discussion until it is to late, not to late in that something goes wrong except for the fact that another encounter with a cobra brings the pregnancy to an end and the delivery of a healthy boy is announced. So snakes do come in useful, sometimes, and this again proves to be the case in dealing with a Radiphuti aunt later on, so funny .....

Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, husband to Mma Ramotswe and owner of Speedy Motors on Tlokwen Road, has a desire to become a more modern husband and enrols in a new course at the university and then Mma Ramotswe finds him, for the first time ever, helping to prepare dinner, but she is gentle with him in explaining,

"So you are mashing them now?' He nodded. `And it's rather hard work, Mma.' `You're mashing them even before you have cooked them, Rra?' He frowned. `You cook them first?' Mma Ramotswe reached around him and took the pan from his hands. It was half-filled with water in which fragments of raw potato floated morosely, like a soup. Very gently she poured the mixture down the drain. `I will show you how to start with new ones,' she said. `You cook the potatoes first and then you take them out and mash them up with butter and salt. That is how mashed potatoes are made, Rra.' He turned away sheepishly. `I was only trying to help, Mma.' She felt a warm rush of affection for the man beside her. `But of course you were, Rra. But I am quite happy to cook mashed potatoes."

In the background of course there are two cases to be solved as business still has to continue even without the assistance of the Associate Detective and Mr JLB Matekoni's lack of cooking skills, but he is still an excellent mechanic...

These books are for anyone who wants a gentle meander through the countryside surrounding the city of Gaberone in the wonderful country of Botswana or so it appears to be from the descriptions in these books, waiting on the rains to revive the country and it's people's, dealing with the serious and the not so serious.

For the first time in reading though I have only two small criticisms; 1. We don't get to read the outcome of the case with Mma Sheba the Lawyer, although we know what Mma Ramotswe wants to do, it is left somewhat unresolved, and 2. how did the cooking of the sausages go with Mr J.L.B. Matekoni?
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