Review

The Double Comfort Safari Club: The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel

by Alexander McCall Smith

The arrival of a thick envelope from America, addressed to Mma
Precious Ramotswe, at The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,
Gabarone, Botswana, Africa, causes quite a stir. Even the
apprentice mechanics who work next door at Speedy Motors, owned by
her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, gather to speculate on its
contents. It is not an everyday event to receive letters from
America, and when one bears an American attorney’s return
address, all work stops.

The letter reveals a request to locate a certain tour guide
(name unknown) at a Safari lodge (name also unknown) in the remote
Okavango Delta National Park. This unnamed guide was very kind to
the lawyer’s late client, Mrs. Estelle Grant, an
American tourist who left a bequest of $3,000 to the guide. All the
other heirs have been found and contacted, and in one last effort
to fulfill this remaining request, the attorney had contacted
the American Embassy that referred him to the No. 1 Ladies’
Detective Agency. Could Mma Ramotswe please travel to the Delta
region and locate the Safari camp and the guide, have the enclosed
papers signed, and deliver the check? All expenses paid.

Was this not a step up Precious Ramotswe’s career
ladder!

She decided she could turn things over at the agency for a few
days to Grace Matakutsi, her assistant detective recently promoted
from secretary, while she set out for the wild delta region. As she
was planning the trip, they received the bad news that
Grace’s fiancé, wealthy furniture store owner Phuti
Radiphuti, had suffered a severe and potentially life-altering
injury at his store. It was an injury that might even delay or
cancel their plans for marriage, still pending while the
procrastinating Phuti stalled on setting the date for their
wedding. Their future becomes even more doubtful when
Phuti’s dear Auntie takes charge of her beloved ailing nephew
at the hospital, keeping Grace from visiting, then spirits him off
to her home to recuperate, still barring Grace’s visits.
Auntie informs Grace that simply being engaged is not the same as
being married, and she has no rights to the unfortunate injured
man.  Precious wonders if there might not be more to this than
meets the eye, but wisely sees there is nothing to be done while
poor Phuti is still unable to fend for himself.

Precious decides to take Grace along with her to search out the
tour guide in the Delta to help take her mind off her problems with
Phuti and his Auntie, and so they set off on an adventure. Every
bit of Mma Ramotswe’s diplomacy is called upon when it turns
out that there could be more than one guide and more than one
Safari camp meeting the vague descriptions provided in the
letter. Then they learn that there may have been more
than one American tourist named Mrs. Grant who visited the region
during the time described in the letter. In her own inimitable way,
Precious calls on her knowledge of traditional African customs
to untangle the mystery and to satisfy the terms of the will and
everyone involved.

Meanwhile, Grace’s nemesis, the scandalous Violet
Sephathoto, resurfaces to practice her seductions on yet another
innocent man and successfully separate him from his life savings.
The defrauded man turns to our wily lady detective who cleverly
devises a plan to return the man’s home and money, and quite
possibly expose Violet’s evil ways.

As usual, Precious Ramotswe resolves these and several other
local problems that cross her doorstep with wisdom, grace and
civility. As we close the cover on another No. 1 Ladies’
Detective Agency
novel, we always wish that it were so in the
real world.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 21, 2011

The Double Comfort Safari Club: The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel
by Alexander McCall Smith

  • Publication Date: April 20, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon
  • ISBN-10: 0375424504
  • ISBN-13: 9780375424502