Three new problems, only one involving an actual client, for the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.
Susan Peters was born in Molepolole and spent four years of her childhood in Gaborone, but she’s passed her adult life in Toronto. Disappointed in love, she’s looking to connect to her past, and she wants Mma Precious Ramotswe and her associate, Mma Grace Makutsi, to find her childhood home and the nurse she remembers only as Rosie. The blurred photograph of Rosie she shares with Botswana’s foremost detective agency (Chance Developments, 2016, etc.) isn’t much of a lead, but the sleuths, aided by their associate Charlie, get down to work. Other matters repeatedly upstage the case. Fanwell, the assistant mechanic at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors—the company owned by Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, Mma Ramotswe’s husband—has run over a dog that’s become perversely attached to him and insists on returning to the agency no matter what. And Mr. Polopetsi, who divides his professional hours between teaching chemistry and consulting at the agency, has added a new activity: going around Gaborone pushing shares in the Fat Cattle Club, an investment opportunity that Mma Ramotswe instantly recognizes as a pyramid scheme. As usual, there’s even more low-level intrigue simmering in the background, from a lovelorn man’s plea to Mma Ramotswe to help him find a nice girl to the detective’s midnight encounter with a snake to the nomination of business consultant Violet Sephotho, Mma Makutsi’s sworn enemy, as Woman of the Year.
The result is a gossamer web that feels miscellaneous even by the loose standards of this celebrated franchise. More than ever, the rewards are local and properly humble, as in every moment experience and wisdom triumph over the blinkered clichés they regularly confront.