I have read all the books of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. Every year I read a new published book from the series, sometimes not because I love it, but it’s out of my obsession complete the series. 🙂
There is no such thing as a perfect car, mused JLB Matekoni, and if every car had its good and bad points, it was the same with people. Just as every person had his or her little ways and habits that niggled or irritated others, annoying mannerisms, vices and failings, moments of selfishness so too did they have their good points: a winning smile, an infectious senses of humour, the ability to cook a favourite dish just the way you wanted it.
That was the way the world was; it was composed of a few almost perfect people (ourselves); then there were a good many people who generally did their best but were not all that perfect (our friends and colleagues); a d finally, there were a few rather nasty ones (our enemies and opponents). Most people feel into the middle group those who did their best; and the last group was, thankfully, very small and not much in evidence in places like Botswana, where he was fortunate enough to live.
J.L.B. Matekoni mused. So it is in Botswana that J.L.B. Matekoni was fortunate enough to marry Mma Precious Ramotswe, who owned the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and this time, Mma Ramotswe is solving the mystery of Mr. Anderson who flew all the way from America in search of the beneficiary of Mrs Grant inheritance to a very kind and helpful man in a distant safari camp. Although the case seems hopeless, Mma Ramotswe is out to find a way to get back the house that Mr. Robert Monageng Kereleng has carelessly sign it off to his fiancée. While the Reverend’s wife, Mrs Mateleke suspects her husband, the Reverend Herbert Mateleke is having an affair, and seeks Mma Ramotswe help to confirm the suspicion. Mma Makutsi’s fiancé Mr Phuti Radiphuti is badly injured, but his senior aunt seeks to supplant his fiancée at the bedside, makes it difficult for Mma Makutsi to see her fiancée.
The cocktail of names mentioned sure sounds like some tongue twisters that is played in some parlour games for a good laugh. But the series is an endearing rendition of life and people of Botswana. The writer gets into the heads of everyday life of the people in Botswana, injected local idioms and thoughts about every little issue that takes your mind off from wherever you are to the Kalahari and follows the trail of Mma Ramotswe and company to solve mysteries that doesn’t requires sophisticated modern forensic tools and highly qualified crime scene investigators. 🙂
I read the book and found myself agreeing to some of the passage:
Sometimes wickedness prevails. It was probably true there were times when wickedness seemed to be so firmly entrenched that any attempt to dislodge it, any rebellion against it, appeared futile.
And the conversation when Mma Ramotswe advised the Reverend that sometimes his wife might need some room for herself:
He looked at her blankly. “Some room, Mma? She has a great deal of space. Our house is very big. My wife is never crowded.”
“I don’t mean room in that sense”, said Mma Ramotswe. “I mean room to do things by herself. It’s natural.”
He stared at her without expression.
“But she is my wife”, said Herbert Mateleke. “Why should she not want to be with me all the time?”
She simply wants to breathe. And men too, we all need to breathe, thought Mma Ramotswe.
If you are familiar with the series, like me, it feels like as if you are listening to the waffling of idyllic neighbours, with juicy gossips and findings; you feel unexpectedly close to the people (the characters), the places that they live, where they go to (in this case Botswana), nothing particularly in the series is earth shattering, but it is just cosy; and the next time when there is a new gossip that circulates around the neighbourhood again (a new book of the series is published), you can’t help but to want to know what the gossips are all about.
Perhaps gossip is not the right word, it’s just figurative. There are a lot of wisdom, a lot of humour. Perhaps there are a lot of readers who might think the same, how else this series would have run for so long? This is the 11th book published in the series and the earlier books are made into BBC series which I thought met my mental images and expectations about the characters.
It’s a heart warming, simple tale told in simple language with injection of principles, values and wisdom of the aged and experienced people in Botswana. I never get tired of Mma Ramotwe’s ingenuity in solving a detective mystery, in which the investigation process always turns out to be quite hilarious.
Review for the previous book in the series: Tea for the traditionally built
Hardback. Publisher: Little Brown, 2010; Length: 247 pages; Setting: Botswana. Source: Library Loot. Finished reading at: 18 April 2010
Have you read any books from the series? or any books from Alexander McCall Smith? If so, what do you think?