The 10th installment in the comfy saga of Botswana’s only
lady detective brings new, but not startling, problems to bear in
Precious Ramotswe’s thriving business.
Her No. 1 problem is her trusty little white van, finally on its
last wheels. It has been regularly resuscitated by her husband, Mr.
J.L.B. Matekoni, owner of the Speedy Way garage, which also houses
the office of the detective agency. He has jerry-rigged repairs on
the 22-year-old truck for years, each time warning his wife that
it’s time to consider a new car. Mma Ramotswe, a traditional
lady in all ways (not just her physique), is reluctant to give up
her old and faithful friend. So in her characteristically
non-confrontational way, she decides that there are too many lazy
people in Gaborone driving far too many cars, so she will set an
example by walking to work. In truth, the little white van’s
last gasps are so noisy that propelling it to work and parking it
at the garage will bring down the dreaded death sentence from her
Her latest client, the rich and famous owner of the Kalahari
Swoopers, a former championship soccer team, comes to her with a
problem. His team is losing one game after another, and he is
convinced that one of his players may be deliberately throwing the
matches, but he doesn’t know which one. He hires Mma Ramotswe
to interview the players and attend matches to expose the culprit.
Mma Ramotswe has never seen a soccer match in her life, so she
presses her foster son, Puso, a star-struck 12-year-old soccer fan,
into accompanying her to explain the game. Puso proves to have the
makings of a budding detective himself, and pinpoints the problem
that is, of course, right in front of everyone’s noses.
Meanwhile, Grace Makutsi, the No. 1 Detective Agency’s
first Assistant Detective, has problems of her own. Her
fiancée, a wealthy furniture store owner, has hired
Grace’s archrival from secretarial school as a salesperson in
the bedding department where her astonishing sales record catapults
her to manager. Grace, suspicious of her rival’s motives
toward her fiancée and her instant success, engages the
roguish Charlie, the lazy but charming mechanic at the garage, into
undercover work to expose the truth of the infamous lady to
Grace’s naïve fiancée.
Cozy is the byword of these delightful almost-mystery novels.
The quiet, soothing African rhythms of daily life in peaceful
Botswana offer respite to the millions of fans of this engaging
And now, to the delight of these fans, The No. 1
Ladies’ Detective Agency has been developed into a
series on HBO. The scripts stick very closely to the storylines
from the novels, and the casting of our Traditionally Built No. 1
Lady Detective couldn’t be more perfect. Filmed on location
in Botswana, the rest of the cast, which includes a few new
characters, doesn’t spoil the books in the least.
So curl up with a cup of tea, and enjoy the delightful and
relaxing tempo of another episode in the saga of our favorite lady
detective. And for dessert, watch the stories played out in the
televised series based on the books.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 23, 2011