A ghost who’s not a ghost presents Mma Precious Ramotswe, of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (The Colors of All the Cattle, 2018, etc.), with a case that’s hardly a case at all.
Mma Ramotswe is stunned to see the specter of Calviniah Ramoroka, whom the newspapers had reported killed in a car accident, at a local wedding. In fact, her old school friend assures her, the victim in that crash was another Calviniah Ramoroka. She’s alive, well, and flourishing, except for one heartache she confesses to Mma Ramotswe over lunch at the Sanitas Garden: Her daughter, Nametso, a diamond sorter in Gaborone, has recently announced her estrangement from her mother without giving a reason. Even though Calviniah hasn’t asked her to look into the matter, much less given her a retainer, Mma Ramotswe determines to get to the bottom of the mystery. Her assistant, Grace Makutsi, has meanwhile insinuated herself into a case that’s still less of a case. Although Mma Ramotswe has written her recent client Mma Mogorosi to reassure her that her husband’s repeated visits to a math teacher are probably not covering an adulterous liaison, Mma Makutsi asks to make further investigations on her own—investigations that soon involve a mysterious silver Mercedes and require the services of Charlie, who works as a part-time helper at the agency when he’s not working as a part-time mechanic at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, the peerless establishment run by Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, Mma Ramotswe’s husband. And Charlie is embroiled in another matter as well. Queenie-Queenie, his girlfriend, is pressing him to name a date for their marriage, and when he pleads his inability to pay the weighty dowry customary for a young woman of her standing, she introduces him to her brother, Hector, whose partnership with a moneylender puts him in need of someone who can frighten clients into paying their debts by sabotaging their cars.
Diffuse even by this bestselling series’ generous standards, though the final not-quite-revelations carry a sunset glow.