Mma Precious Ramotswe wrestles with a timeless problem—to cling to the old or embrace the new—in her tenth adventure.
Mr. Leungo Molofololo, the latest client of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, has a big problem. The soccer team he owns, the Kalahari Swoopers, has stopped winning. Someone on the team, he tells Mma Ramotswe, is throwing the matches, and he wants her to find out who. Despite her complete ignorance of the game and her client’s failure to pay a retainer, Botswana’s preeminent detective conscientiously begins interviewing Swoopers to find out who is the rotten link. As usual in this much-honored series (The Miracle at Speedy Motors, 2008, etc.), however, the real action lies elsewhere. Sharp-tongued assistant detective Grace Makutsi’s engagement is imperiled when her fiancé, Mr. Phuti Radiphuti, hires her old nemesis, mantrap Violet Sephotho, to sell beds at his furniture store. Struggling to keep her man, Mma Makutsi has to decide between buying food and indulging in a pair of faux-alligator shoes. Mma Ramotswe’s beloved little white van seems to be “sick at heart.” Should she report its condition to her husband, auto salesman Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, who’ll surely want to replace it, or try to get one of his apprentices to fix it behind his back?
Episodes in Smith’s series, like those in a long-running sitcom, have stopped competing with each other as better or worse and instead have gelled into a self-contained world into which audiences enter with pleasure and gratitude. Here’s more of the same.