Thursday, March 6, 2014


“Good” is far too timid a word to describe this book yet it is accurate in that what we would describe as being “good” is so evident in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels.  There is love, friendship, respect, trust, beauty, observance of tradition, and all are leavened with generous dashes of humor.  After all, who but Alexander McCall Smith would describe a heavyset woman having trouble getting out of a van as being “accustomed to occasional issues of manoeuvrability?”  He has a delightful way with words which is uniquely his own and always brings smiles.

Smith immediately won the hearts of countless readers when he introduced Mma Precious Ramotswe and her founding of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency with the initial book in this series.  Life goes on with The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, and what a joy it is to return to Botswana!   With this revisit we are reminded that one certainty in life is change even in one of the earth’s most beautiful places.

Mma Ramotswe finds herself confronted with two confounding cases.  One concerns the legal inheritor of an impressive farm - is the young man really who he is presented as being?  The second concerns a new beauty shop owner who has become the object of so much slander that she may lose her recently opened shop.   As Mma Ramotswe ponders these questions she realizes how very much she misses her shoe-loving assistant Mma Makutsi who is now the proud mother of a beautiful baby boy, Itumelang Clovis Radiphuti.  (The middle name Clovis honors Clovis Andersen, author of The Principles of Private Detection.)  The ladies rely heavily upon his advice.

Mma Ramotswe’s devoted husband, garage owner J.L.B. Matekoni wants very much to please Mma Ramotswe by becoming a modern husband.  To this end he enrolls in a course taught by a rather unlikable teacher.  His attempt at cooking dinner is unsuccessful to say the least but met with understanding and equilibrium by his wife.

Despite the cases that need her attention Mma Ramotswe still finds time for frequent cups of red bush tea and visits to friends, especially one who bakes the best cake and is thoughtful enough to add extra sultanas simply because she knows Mma Ramotswe loves them.

At one point in a conversation Mma Ramotswe finds herself unable to express her gratitude and senses “that our heart is not always able to say what it wants to say and frequently has to content itself with less.”  That is precisely where I find myself with this review - I simply cannot say enough “good” things about this book and eagerly await the next one.

- Gail Cooke

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