Visiting Botswana with The Number One Ladies Detective Agency is like sitting down with a cup of tea-bush tea if you want to emulate the series' characters. It gives readers a chance to sit back, ponder situations carefully and let a comfortable peace settle over them. There is something reassuring about the way Precious Ramotswe is able to calmly reason out the solutions to the various problems brought to her that leaves readers with a sense that all is right with the world after all.
In The Miracle at Speedy Motors, the ninth installment of this endearing series, an anonymous letter has come to the detective agency threatening both Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi. While the women worry over the letter and what it could mean, Manka Sebina comes asking for help. Her earliest memories are of a car being pulled out of a ditch and then a series of Sunday School memories, all at age four. She was taken in by a kind family when she was little and raised by them, but she has no idea who she really is, if she has living family, or even when her real birth date is. And if the letter and the woman with no past wasn't enough, then there is the problem of the quack doctor trying to sell J.L.B. Malekoni, Mma Ramotswe's husband, a cure for their daughter's illness. Meanwhile, Mma Makutsi is trying to deal with a new bed which is causing her all sorts of trouble.
Smith gives readers such a sense of presence with these books. With each new entry into the series, readers get the chance to get to know the village, it's people and their culture in a very special way. Rather than building suspense through action, Smith pulls readers along through the day's challenges and rewards with the characters. We're there when the heavy rain comes. We're there when for the mid morning tea breaks. Smith truly delivers Gaborone, Botswana to the readers.
For loyal fans of this series, the actual solutions to the various problems are not nearly as important as following Mma Ramotswe as she uses her logical deducing skills and keen power of observation, to reason out the answers. Even when things go poorly, Mma Ramotswe does not lose heart in the fundamental goodness of people. In the end a sense of well being again reigns over Tlokweng Road.
REVIEWED BY CARYN ST. CLAIR
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