I've been a fan of Precious Ramotswe since she made her 1998 debut in the “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series. In “The Double Comfort Safari Club,” the 11th novel about the “traditionally built” and fiercely independent queen of Botswana private investigators, Smith continues to weave several plot lines into sweet, gentle fiction that provides a peek into a world far removed from our day-to-day hustle.
Mma Ramotswe and her husband, the distinguished mechanic and owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, are facing several challenges.
Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni witnesses a strange interaction on a highway and puzzles about how to tell his wife what happened.
Mma Ramotswe receives a letter from the United States, requesting her to find an anonymous safari guide at an unnamed camp somewhere in Botswana. She also handles an uncomfortable property dispute for a client who has been taken in by a woman of questionable character.
Grace Makutsi, Mma Ramotswe's esteemed assistant and “graduate summa cum laude of the Botswana Secretarial College,” has issues of her own. Her fiancé, Mr. Phuti Radiphuti, owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop, is involved in a horrific accident at his store's loading dock. As he recuperates, his maiden aunt takes over his life, shutting Mma. Makutsi out.
Those familiar with the series will know there is no action and very little adventure in these stories. What keeps readers coming back to them, however, are the rich characters and how they live from day to day, never losing their kindness and compassion. Maybe it’s the Botswana air, or maybe there's something in the red bush tea Mma Ramotswe drinks all day. Whatever it is, the characters in Smith's books never seem to lose their appeal.
As in the past, I still have issues with Smith's use of the word “that.” Here's a perfect example: …. “So although she knew that she could not refuse to help Mma Mateleke, she also knew that she could not refuse her friend.” (Emphasis added.)
Early in the series, it wasn't important to have read all the books to enjoy new ones. Now, however, I believe the books should be read in order of publication to thoroughly enjoy each layered nuance of the slow and gracious life of these characters.
In “The Double Comfort Safari Club,” Smith spends a lot of time on the characters' internal thought processes. Being completely familiar with their storylines will certainly increase the reader’s ultimate understanding of these dear, gentle people.
Editor's note: This review is dedicated
to Dr. Laurene “Laurie” Van Camp Fausett, who loved Mma Ramotswe, and anxiously awaited each new story from Botswana.
Laurie lost her battle with cancer on April 18.
A copy of “The Double Comfort Safari Club” will be donated to the Sulphur Springs
Public Library in Laurie’s name.
Sail on, dear, gentle lady.
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