Sunday, March 6, 2022


I'm always thrilled to see there's a new No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency adventure.  Stepping into Botswana and into the gentle world of Mma Ramotswe is such a pleasure.  This new adventure features all the favorites (except we don't see much of part-time assistant detective Charlie, as he's on paternity leave).  The various problems facing detectives Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are as perplexing and heartbreaking as usual:  a man who fears his father's caretaker has exercised undue influence to get the will re-written in the caretaker's favor and a new arrival at the Orphan Farm who claims she had been held as a slave and other children were still there.  The detectives must use their unconventional methods to learn more about the situation and to solve the problems as only they can.

The main story running through the book, however, concerns Mr. JLB Matekoni and his apparent "male menopause."  After being persuaded to attend a conference and networking event for small businesses, Mr. JLB Matekoni encounters an old school friend who seems to have become very successful.  While previously happy enough with his life and small garage, the friend persuades Mr. JLB Matekoni that he should invest in a new business opportunity: a bus company.  Suddenly, Mr. JLB Matekoni becomes excited in a way he hasn't felt in a long time.  He begins to see the possibilities of expanding his business holdings and living up to a potential he didn't know he had.  Unfortunately, he doesn't have an unlimited supply of pula just lying around, so he uses the only asset he has:  he's going to take a loan on the building that houses not only Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, but also the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.  Although those around Mr. JLB Matekoni are dubious about his new plans, when the man from the bank arrives to value the property and gives his dismissive evaluation, the alarm bells really start to ring.

While I always enjoy reading the adventures of these characters, this book left me with a decidedly uneasy feeling.  Everyone seemed to be plotting and scheming behind Mr. JLB Matekoni to ensure he would not be able to invest in this new business.  While he wouldn't be the only one affected if the business did fail, it was very discouraging to see that absolutely no one supported him in this venture.  In the same manner, the case the lady detectives were investigating about the will and the undue influence also seemed to go in an unpleasant and unprofessional direction.  Another book I recently read talked about fanfiction characters behaving "OOC" (out of character) and it seemed to me that most of the people in this new book were OOC.  I can imagine it can be difficult to come up with new situations and dimensions for the characters to grow, but this felt as if every character (except the reliable Mma Makutsi) had gotten a personality transplant.  I didn't recognize them.  I hope the next book will have everyone back to their old selves, even if that means not a lot happens.


Unknown said...

Hi. One of my delights, about 20 years ago, was finding the No 1 ladies detective agency. They are lovely simple reading with a simple moral tale. On your sidebar I think you are reading the Prey novels of John Sandford. I love these too but prefer the Virgil Flowers spin off. I don't understand why they are not films.
(I had just read the Diamond geezer blog and hope you don't mind me writing :-)

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