Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Alexander McCall Smith

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-307-37841-5
Publisher: Pantheon

Two and a half new cases for Precious Ramotswe, who presides over the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

The first case is both straightforward and tricky. Sheba Kutso, the lawyer Edgar Molapo hired to execute the will leaving much of his estate to his late brother’s son, Liso, suspects that the young man calling himself Liso Molapo isn’t her late client’s nephew, even though he’s supplied with all the proper identification. Mma Ramotswe can imagine several different scenarios that would explain the possible imposture, as well as some that would indicate that the claimant isn’t an imposter at all, but it’s hard to find evidence that supports any of them and excludes the others. In the second case, which asks who’s spreading malicious rumors about Mma Soleti, the proprietor of the newly relocated Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, identifying the culprit seems almost too easy, but this inquiry too turns out to have unexpected twists. What occupies Mma Ramotswe most deeply, however, is the absence of her secretary and associate detective, Grace Makutsi, who, only days after finally acknowledging her pregnancy, is delivered of a son whose arrival brings a most unwelcome extended visit from her husband Phuti Radiphuti’s aunt. In the tale’s most effective episode, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, getting the idea that he needs to work harder at being a good husband to Mma Ramotswe, signs up for the Modern Husband course at the University of Botswana, with gratifyingly predictable results.

A little slower-moving and more diffuse than many of the 13 preceding volumes in this celebrated series (The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection, 2012, etc.), but it’s no more than you’d expect from a heroine whose fleetness has never been as big a draw as her wisdom.