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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
In this installment in the bestselling No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency saga, “traditionally built” Botswana detective Precious Ramotswe must deal with some weighty issues -- namely her own; but first she and her assistant detective, Grace Makutsi, must handle a series of exceedingly delicate personal and professional dilemmas.
The appearance of a giant cobra underneath Makutsi's desk is just a portent of things to come for the women at the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. A cook hires the agency to unravel a blackmailing scheme involving her dishonest boss; a nurse suspects an unethical doctor of falsifying diagnoses; and Ramotswe investigates a nearby village possibly under the influence of witchcraft. The most frustrating problems, however, are personal in nature: Makutsi's fiancé gets cold feet when he suspects his future wife of being a feminist, and Ramotswe struggles with being a “fuller-figured” woman. But Ramotswe's unconventional philosophy for coming up with solutions to life's complicated problems pays off when she and her fashionable, shoe-loving assistant take time out to reflect -- and go shopping.
McCall Smith's relaxed, almost meditative narrative is not only filled with profound insights into the human condition but also with intensely vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of the southern African landscape ("the smell of maize cobs roasting on the open fire, of beef sizzling in its fat, of large chunks of pumpkin boiling in the pot”). Breathtakingly described and addictively readable, this volume of McCall Smith's series is as appealing as its lovable main character. In a word: Precious. Paul Goat Allen