FEW authors tell a modern-day fairytale with more astute moral insight, keenly biting wit and generous laugh-out-loud humour than Alexander McCall Smith.
Deftly weaving together life lessons in ethical behaviour with an exotic location and a cast of endearing characters, McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series continues to reward readers with its family-friendly exploration of moral dilemmas in a 21st-century African setting.
In the 19th Ladies’ Detective Agency novel, Mma Precious Ramotswe is challenged anew, not only in a professional sense but also on a personal level.
While busy delving into the hit-and-run crippling of one of Botswana’s most respected citizens and a long-time friend of her now-late father, Mma Ramotswe must weigh up her commitment to her husband and children in the face of an unexpected opportunity to publicly oppose the planned construction a “disrespectful” hotel bordering the local cemetery.
Should she stand for political office in order to have a meaningful say in the decision-making process? If so, how will she fare in a public popularity vote against the arch-nemesis of her business partner, Mma Grace Makutsi: the contemptible but glamorous Violet Sephoto? After all, what can Mma Ramotswe say about herself other than the simple truth: “I can’t promise anything – but I shall do my best”?
At the same time Mma Ramotswe’s offsider, part-time trainee detective Charlie, is wrestling with internal questions of his own. His girlfriend Queenie-Queenie is yet to introduce Charlie to her family, and a boyhood acquaintance appears to know more than he’s admitting about the accident that injured Doctor Marang.
Impoverished and sharing a tiny bedroom with two of his younger cousins, Charlie might finally have a chance to prove his true value as an investigator – and in so doing mark himself out as a worthy suitor for Habarone’s most beautiful shop assistant.