20 March 2012

Review: THE LIMPOPO ACADEMY OF PRIVATE DETECTION, Alexander McCall Smith

  • Published by Little Brown 2012
  • ISBN 978-1-4087-0260-4
  • 261 pages
  • #13 in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Random House)

Precious Ramotswe is haunted by a repeated dream: a vision of a tall, strange man who waits for her beneath an acacia tree. Odd as this is, she’s far too busy to worry about it.

The best apprentice at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors is in trouble with the law and stuck with the worst lawyer in Gaborone. Grace Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti are building the house of their dreams, but their builder is not completely on the up and up. And, most shockingly, Mma Potokwane, defender of Botswana’s weak and downtrodden, has been dismissed from her post as matron at the orphan farm. Can the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency help restore the beloved matron to her rightful position?

As wealthy and powerful influences at the orphan farm become allied against their friend, help arrives from an unexpected visitor: the tall stranger from Mma Ramotswe’s dreams, who turns out to be none other than the estimable Clovis Andersen, author of the No. 1 Ladies’ prized manual, The Principles of Private Detection. Together, Mma Ramotswe, Mma Makutsi, and their teacher-turned-colleague help right this injustice and in the process discover something new about being a good detective.

My take

When I watched the TV series just recently I was a little disappointed but I couldn't pinpoint just what was missing. It wasn't just that Jill Scott didn't quite fit my mental image of Precious Ramotswe. The content of the stories seemed rather thin and he-who-watches-TV-with-me read his paper because he thought the episodes were rather trite.

But now I know what was missing! What the books contain that I so much enjoy. I'm pretty sure that I have read the whole series, so I'm pretty well acquainted with all the characters. What the books contain is the carefully chosen language with that subtle touch of humour that conveys Mma Ramotswe's thoughts and feelings.

Followers of this series won't be disappointed in THE LIMPOPO ACADEMY OF PRIVATE DETECTION. The stories feel fresh and while there's no murder there's plenty of everyday life, the stuff that makes these cozies so satisfying. There's no doubt about it - McCall Smith has created a cast of characters that we care about.

You'll notice that I have included THE LIMPOPO ACADEMY OF PRIVATE DETECTION under Africa in the 2012 Global Reading Challenge.  The novels in this series are very firmly based in Botswana and frequently contain reflections on how Botswana is coping with the modern world. For example Clovis Andersen and Precious Ramotswe talk about how words are disappearing from the language and she often talks about the loss of traditional values. And on a deeper level the novels raise issues about how modern economics is destroying traditional and human structures.

My rating: 4.5

Other reviews of this series on MiP
TEA TIME for the TRADITIONALLY BUILT
THE MIRACLE AT SPEEDY MOTORS

THE DOUBLE COMFORT SAFARI CLUB
4.5, THE SATURDAY BIG TENT WEDDING PART

3 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Oh, you have reminded me of one of my favourite series! Thanks for this fine review, too. You're quite right that McCall Smith has a real gift of language that makes that series very special indeed.

Marg said...

I am number 1 in the library queue for this one. I am looking forward to reacquainting myself with all the characters.

Susan said...

I have to catch up in this series. I really liked them - I know I've read two for sure, and I still have the flavour of them in my mind. PRecious is one of a kind, and I love her gentle humour and how her thoughts are portrayed, too. Thanks for a lovely review, Kerrie.

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