The proprietress of Botswana’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and her able assistant, Grace Makutsi – who never lets anyone forget she made 97 percent at the Botswana Secretarial College – refer to the book so often that they can quote passages from memory.
So, imagine their surprise when the very same Clovis Anderson shows up at the office one day.
There was complete silence. Mma Ramotswe looked across the room at Mma Makutsi, who was sitting bolt upright, the lenses of her glasses flashing signals of amazement.
In “The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection,” the 13th installment of the successful series, author Alexander McCall Smith sticks with the formula that has made the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency an international phenomenon.
The professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh doesn’t resort to thrill-a-minute shootouts, espionage or globe-trotting assassins to sell books. In fact, most of his?Botswana-based stories move at a glacial pace. And that’s what makes them work.
The plots revolve around Precious Ramotswe, a tractionally built woman who decides to take the inheritance left to her by her father, Obed, a man renowned for his knowledge of cattle, and open the first all-female detective agency in Gaborone, the capitol city of Botswana.
To help around the office, Mma Ramotswe hires Grace Makutsi, a poor girl who came to the city to find a better life. Mma Makutsi is a stickler when it comes to proper office procedure and does her best to keep Mma. Ramotswe on the straight and narrow. Makutsi, recently married to The Double Comfort Furniture store owner Phuti Radiphuti, has only one vice. She loves shoes. In fact, she is so connected to her footwear that she can hear them speak to her.
Mma. Ramotswe is married to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, the owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Gabarone’s most popular auto repair shop. Together, the couple is raising two orphans, Motholeli and Puso.
Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s apprentices, Fanwell and Charlie, are a constant source of irritation to Mma. Makutsi who believes they are lazy womanizers and not fit for mixed company.
Precious and her crew, along with the able assistance of Clovis Anderson, work on several cases, including the sudden departure of Mma Silvia Potokwane, matron of the orphan farm. It seems her disappearance is related to the very wealthy and well connected Mr. Ditso Ditso, a builder who has been named to the orphanage’s board of directors. Additionally, the team must put their heads together to help Charlie, who has been arrested for making repairs to a stolen vehicle.
As always, the mysteries Mma Ramotswe and her friends solve are secondary to the sweet, gentle fiction that forces readers to slow down, be thankful for their blessings and always, always be mindful of their manners.
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