As we all know by now, McCall Smith is author of the Isabel Dalhousie series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, the 44 Scotland Street series and the Corduroy Mansions series. The secret to his success may lie in the fact that he keeps each series close to home. His people don’t travel far. We get an intimate picture of their day-to-day lives, walking to work, seeing their friends for a tea or coffee, with the occasional irregular happening which of course makes the story. In the case of the No. l Ladies Detective Agency series, we get vivid pictures of the sun setting over the Kalahari and Mma Ramotse sitting beneath an old acacia tree – at all times of day. McCall Smith used to live in Africa and is now attached to the University of Edinburgh -both settings he knows well.
In this one, Mma Ramotse is preoccupied in getting her sharp-tongued Assistant safely married. But the detective cases still come in, including quite a violent one involving the killing of some cattle in a remote cattle post. Precious is well-loved and trusted and her method of solving crimes is to get everyone involved talking to her. McCall Smith is professor emeritus of medical law and has served on many national and international organizations concerned with bio-ethics. His books reflect his interest. Rather than stick to superficial emotions he tells a real story that deeply touches the human heart. This is one of them.
Review by Anne McDougall