Sunday, March 5, 2017

Review of "Precious and Grace" by Alexander McCall Smith




The newest client of the "The Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" is Susan Peters, a Canadian woman who was born and raised in Botswana. Susan is nostalgic for her early life in the beautiful African country and - producing an old photo - asks Mma Ramotswe to find her childhood home and former nanny, called Rosie.

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi put a piece in the newspaper asking Rosie to come forward and (of course) several candidates quickly show up. Mma Makutsi - acerbic and skeptical as always - thinks they're all phonies but Mma Ramotswe believes one woman might be the real deal. Inquiries, a house visit, and many cups of tea eventually help resolve the situation - which is a little different than it first appears.

Meanwhile Mr. Polopetsi, a chemistry teacher and part-time detective, has inadvertently involved himself in a ponzi scheme. The naive, good-hearted man has convinced several acquaintances to invest in a shady plan to buy and sell cattle, with the promise of 25% profit. When Mma Ramotswe and Mma Potokwane (director of the orphan farm) confront Mr. Polopetsi with the truth, he's crushed. But Mma Ramotswe tries to make things right - and keep Mr. Polopetsi out of prison.

Mma Ramotswe has one additional concern. Fanwell, who works as a mechanic for Mr. JLB Matekoni, has been adopted by a stray dog. The pooch, named 'Zebra' by Mma Ramotswe's foster children, needs a permanent home.....but where? Mma Ramotswe attempts to work it out.

As usual with this series, Mma Ramotswe uses her intelligence, insight, and compassion to solve problems and Mma Makutsi acts as kind of a Greek chorus - voicing her own quirky views. Some occurrences in the story lead Mma Ramotswe to ponder forgiveness.....a worthy act. However, when Mma Ramotswe avers she'd let criminals off with a warning, I'm taken aback. Perhaps Mma Ramotswe doesn't believe Botswana harbors murderers, rapists, or the like.

This story isn't as humorous as some other entries in the series but one 'problem' did make me laugh. Over time, Mma Makutsi has promoted herself from secretary, to assistant detective, to associate detective, to partner, and finally to 'Co-Director" of the agency (LOL). This leaves Mma Ramotswe with a dilemma. Can she still ask Mma Makutsi to take dictation, make phone calls, type letters, and so on? Mma Ramotswe frets about this continually, but the issue remains unresolved. I'm curious to see how it plays out.

The stories in Alexander McCall Smith's series' are always enjoyable. This book is recommended to people who like cozies, especially fans of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

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