Wayward daughters. Missing husbands. Philandering partners. Curious conmen. If you’ve got a problem, and no one else can help you, then pay a visit to Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s only – and finest – female private detective.
Her methods may not be convinced, and her manner not exactly Miss Marple, but she’s got warmth, wit and canny intuition on her side, not to mention Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, the charming proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. And Precious is going to need them all as she sets out on the trail of a missing child, a case that tumbles our heroine into a hotbed of strange situations and more than a little danger ...
Precious Ramotswe is a determined woman of a comfortable size who is the first female private detective to set up an agency in Botswana. Helped by her efficient secretary, Mma Makutsi and J. L. B. Matekoni, the owner of a nearby garage, she helps solve cases such as identifying the boyfriend of a young girl for her father and working out whether the man living with one client is really her long-lost father. While there is a cozy feel to many of the cases, Mma Ramotswe’s main case in the book is one that goes to Botswana’s more sinister underbelly – the kidnapping of a young boy for muti (black magic).
McCall Smith writes with a real affection for Botswana and its people. Although the book does not go deep into Botswana’s poverty (Mma Ramotswe and her friends are all relatively comfortable and are respected within the community), he does acknowledge it – particularly through the story of Precious’s father who made his money working in the harsh South African mines. However the muti case puts pays to any thought that this is a book that sees Africa through rose-tinted glasses.
It’s a charming read with wonderful characters, a great sense of place and a lot of humour. The only thing I can say against it is that it’s nowhere near long enough as I could have read about all of the characters for hours. I was very sorry to have finished it and am keen to read the next in the series.
Warm, funny, charming and surprisingly dark, this is a wonderful read with a real feel for Botswana and its people. Definitely worth a look.
Cross-posted to books and bookworming.