Friday, November 2, 2012

On a hot day we dream of tea

Oh happy day!  A new novel featuring Mma Ramotswe, Mr. JLB Matekoni and Mma Makutsi (Dip. Sec. 97%) is always a cause for celebration.  The latest exploits of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency are chronicled in The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection.  Once again we are drawn back to the dusty streets of Gabarone and find out what our beloved friends have been up to since we last met.

Strangely for such calm people living in such a beautiful place, there are many conflicts in this book.  While a number of conflicts in the previous books have dealt with our two female detectives trying to get to the bottom of various cases, in this book the problems are all personal.

First of all, Mma Potokwane, the head of the Orphan Farm, is being relieved of her duties.  Mma Ramotswe is totally dismayed by this information, not only because she doesn't want her friend to lose her job, but also because she knows how hard Mma Potokwane works on behalf of the orphans.  Who else will bribe tradesmen with fruit cake to get goods and services for free?  And why would the board of the orphan farm want to replace such a dedicated leader as Mma Potokwane? 

Next, Fanwell, the somewhat reserved apprentice of Mr. JLB Matekoni, is arrested and charged with dealing in stolen cars.  Everyone, including the occasionally prickly Mma Makutsi, is sure of his innocence, but how to prove it?  Especially when no one is able to afford a good attorney to represent him in court and the one he can afford is not exactly on top of things.

Finally, Mma Makutsi and her new husband Phuti Radiphuti are in the process of  building their new house.   They excitedly discuss where and how they want it built and furnished, but the builder is not only disrespectful to Mma Makutsi, he's also shifty and overbearing.  It's enough to cause poor Phuti to start stuttering again.

Fortunately, into all this chaos wanders a real celebrity -- at least within the halls of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.  The exalted personage does seem to be somewhat lacking in expertise (in his own estimation), but this does not dim the adoration of the two lady detectives who are awed by his presence.  His advice does eventually help them to resolve their problems.

As always, the people are kind, their interactions humorous and the results are satisfying.  I did feel that in this book everything was tied up a bit too quickly and tidily.  Perhaps only one or two crises per book with more complex solutions would be in order next time.  But the overall effect was a pleasant time spent with old friends, and we can all use more of that!

Final Verdict for The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection Four Gherkins, for being another lovely visit to our hardworking tea-drinking friends in Botswana

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