From Publishers Weekly
The seventh entry in the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series (after 2005's In the Company of Cheerful Ladies) reaffirms Smith's considerable gifts as a writer. His familiar characters offer further facets of their personalities, and their gentle, tolerant approach to life remains a refreshing contrast to most fictional figures, let alone those populating most mysteries. The author's love for his creations and for his Botswana setting are evident on every page. While the plot will be of secondary importance to fans of Precious Ramotswe, the "traditionally-built," self-taught private detective, and her assistant, Grace Makutsi, Smith presents them with several mysteries, including the search for the identity of a blackmailer and the source of malaise at a nearby game reserve. Ramotswe's intuition and understanding enable her to find the truth, while dispensing justice according to her own personal dictates. Even newcomers will be charmed by this wonderful novel, with its skillful blend of humor and pathos, and will doubtless rush to catch up with the earlier books.
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*Starred Review* In this seventh installment in McCall Smith's delightful No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, "traditionally built" Botswana detective Precious Ramotswe faces one of her toughest challenges: losing weight. Luckily, there are plenty of dilemmas to keep her mind off her girth: a nearby village that seems under the influence of witchcraft, a cook suspected of filching food for her increasingly portly spouse, and a newspaper advice columnist who's doing more damage than good. Readers become better acquainted with assistant detective Mma Grace Makutsi, best known for earning a stellar 97 percent grade at the Botswana Secretarial College. Mma Makutsi (who harbors a passion for fashionable shoes) fears her well-off fiance, furniture salesman and reformed stutterer Phuti Radiphuti, will leave her after learning she's a feminist. (He has a nightmare in which he's swept aside by a large feminist with a broom.) Scotsman McCall Smith renders brisk, seamless tales that are both wry and profound. Amidst the mayhem (like the cobra that slithers its way into the detective agency's headquarters) are eloquent descriptions of the serene African country that holds a special place in his heart. "In Botswana," he writes, "ties of kinship, no matter how attenuated by distance or time, linked one person to another, weaving across the country a human blanket of love and community." It is those ties and that sense of community that continue to make this series so appealing to both genre and nongenre readers. Allison BlockCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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