Friday, December 2, 2016

Review of "The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon" by Alexander McCall Smith

In this 14th book in the series, Mma Ramotswe, owner of "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" in Botswana, has two cases to solve. The first case, brought by a lawyer named Mma Sheba, concerns the inheritance of a local farm. The deceased farmer's heir, a nephew, has shown up to claim the property. However Mma Sheba fears 'the nephew' may be an imposter, and asks Mma Ramotswe to investigate.

The second case involves Mma Soleti, owner of "The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon." When Mma Soleti moves her salon to a desirable new location she receives a package containing the feather of a ground hornbill - a symbol of bad luck. Soon afterward a rumor campaign starts, claiming that women who get facials at Mma Soleti's salon suffer irreparable damage. Mma Ramotswe agrees to look into the matter.

Normally, Mma Ramotswe's associate, Mma Grace Makutski, assists with investigations. But Mma Makutski is pregnant and about to take maternity leave. Thus, Mma Ramotswe has to tackle most of the inquiries alone.....though Grace offers valuable advice. As always, Mma Ramotswe uses her intuition and insight (along with a bit of luck) to solve the cases.

Like all books in this series, the story is more about the characters than the cases. Mma Makutski and her husband, Phuti Radiphuti, have moved into an elegant home. Unfortunately, venomous snakes like it too! And Phuti's unpleasant elderly aunt is determined to enforce 'the old traditions' when Mma Makutski gives birth, which clashes with Grace's modern views.

Other ongoing characters make an appearance as well. Mma Ramotswe's husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, decides to be a 'more modern' husband and help with the cooking. (His heart is in the right place, but he tries to mash the potatoes before he cooks them. LOL). Apprentice mechanic Charlie, known for chasing girls, takes an unexpected shine to Mma Makutski's new baby. (Can he be thinking of settling down?) Orphanage manager Mma Potokwane offers tea, fruitcake (and serendipitously.....a valuable witness). And so on.

In the course of the story Mma Ramotswe realizes how much she appreciates Mma Makutski's friendship, intelligence, and help. So, at the end of the book, Mma Ramotswe gives her employee a nice surprise.

I'd highly recommend the book to readers who like cozies, especially fans of Mma Ramotswe. I wouldn't suggest reading this book as a standalone though. It's best to start at the beginning and 'grow' with the characters.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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