There is another Africa behind the headlines in the daily news, and Alexander McCall Smith takes us there every time he writes about Precious Ramotswe and her No. l Ladies’ Detective Agency. The first book in the series was a runaway bestseller, and this one has just as much charm, as it follows the adventures of Mrs. Ramotswe’s husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, as he takes on a case and tries to track down an errant husband.
The story is set in a small village in Botswana (formerly Bechuanaland).. McCall Smith was born in Botswana, and taught law at the university there, before returning to live in Edinburgh, which is now his home. He captures the big sky, the dirt roads that run beside the Notwane river, where crocodile lurk at the water’s edge. He also draws us into the compassion of the society, as well as the sharpness of Mrs.Ramotswe as she goes about in her tiny white van, picking up clues from neighbours who trust her. Although tactful about her husband’s temporary switch from running a big garage to trying his hand as detective, you feel a certain relief on her part as he concludes his “case” and slips happily back to mechanics , where he is a pro.
McCall Smith has a number of series running out of his Edinburgh office; the Isabel Dalhousie series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series and the 44 Scotland Street series. Readers who love them all will welcome this new one
Reviewed by Anne McDougall.