success spoil the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and Tlokweng Road
Speedy Motors? Precious Ramotswe and her husband, Mr. J. L. B.
Matekoni, share offices and employees in their thriving businesses,
but discontent bubbles beneath the calm surface.
Grace Makutsi, secretary and assistant detective who graduated with
a 97% in clerical skills from the Botswana Secretarial College (a
fact she is quick to mention at the slightest provocation), is on
the verge of revolt. She recently has become engaged to a
successful businessman and believes she doesn't need this job in a
noisy garage. She grows impatient with the apprentice mechanics,
and now, much to her boss's consternation, she's being rude to
potential detective agency clients. She quits in a huff, leaving
both businesses in a state of turmoil.
The eldest apprentice mechanic would love to quit tinkering with
motors to open his own taxi service.
Even Mr. Matekoni, mechanic extraordinaire and owner of Speedy
Motors, looks on his wife's detective business as filled with
intrigue and adventure, certainly far more interesting than tuning
engines and adjusting brakes.
Precious Ramotswe is perfectly happy with her profession, but just
as the revolt begins to simmer at the office, the No. 1 Lady
Detective is presented with her most challenging mystery to date.
In all of her previous experiences in detecting and counseling
people in trouble, never has she had a case like this. A local
hospital administrator discloses to her the puzzling details of
several unexplained deaths in the same bed at the same time on
successive Fridays. Seeking to avoid scandal and disruption of
hospital routine, he calls on Mma Ramotswe's well-known discretion
and wisdom to sort things out in the least messy manner.
Mr. Matekoni sees the opportunity he has been waiting for when a
client shows up at the office while his wife is out. He steps in to
help by interviewing the woman, who tells him that she suspects her
husband, a prominent local businessman, may be having an affair.
She wants Mma Ramotswe to follow him to get the goods on him so she
can confront him with his adultery.
Mr. Matekoni fancies himself to be a sharp observer, one of his
wife's strongest attributes as a detective. He has observed the
agency's clients and her technique from afar for some time, and it
appears that all she does is ask a lot of simple questions and then
discovers the truth. He embarks on the case on his own, and Mma
Ramotswe reluctantly agrees to let him take it on. What he
discovers about himself and the alleged wandering husband brings
surprising results to all the parties.
Alexander McCall Smith has created an ongoing cast of characters
beloved by fans from around the world. Precious Ramotswe solves the
crimes and personal dilemmas of her clients with such gentle skill
and ancient wisdom that readers wonder why all the troubles in this
chaotic world can't be resolved so wisely.
McCall Smith writes about Botswana, where he taught law, with a
deep love and admiration for the land and its people. A Scotsman,
he lived for many years in Africa and now resides in Edinburgh
where he continues the saga of Precious Ramotswe with this, his
eighth book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.
He also creates ethical conundrums featuring another great and wise
lady, Isabel Dalhousie, of the Sunday Philosophy Club
series, who is gathering a fan club of her own.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 22, 2011