The Double Comfort Safari Club (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #11)

The Double Comfort Safari Club (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #11)

3.8 178
by Alexander McCall Smith

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Fans around the world adore the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and its proprietor, Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma  Ramotswe—with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi—navigates her cases and

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Fans around the world adore the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and its proprietor, Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma  Ramotswe—with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi—navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, good humor, and the occasional cup of tea.

Readers will agree that this touching and dramatic new installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s beloved and best-selling series is the finest yet. In this story, Precious Ramotswe deals with issues of mistaken identity and great fortune against the beautiful backdrop of Botswana’s remote and striking Okavango Delta.
Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi head to a safari camp to carry out a delicate mission on behalf of a former guest who has left one of the guides a large sum of money. But once they find their man, Precious begins to sense that something is not right. To make matters worse, shortly before their departure Mma Makutsi’s fiancé, Phuti Radiphuti, suffers a debilitating accident, and when his aunt moves in to take care of him, she also pushes Mma Makutsi out of the picture. Could she be trying to break up the relationship? Finally, a local priest and his wife independently approach Mma Ramotswe with concerns of infidelity, creating a rather unusual and tricky situation. Nevertheless, Precious is confident that with a little patience, kindness and good sense things will work out for the best, something that will delight her many fans.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As in 2009’s Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, the previous entry in this beguiling, bestselling series, a personal crisis for one of the leads, rather than a mystery, drives the plot of Smith’s superb 12th novel set in Botswana featuring his infinitely understanding sleuth, Precious Ramotswe. When a delivery truck backs into Phuti Radiphuti, the fiancé of Mma Ramotswe’s prickly and insecure assistant, Grace Makutsi, and crushes his leg against a wall, Phuti’s rude aunt won’t allow Grace to visit her beloved in the hospital. Meanwhile, the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency tries to help the executor of an American woman, who wished to leave some money to a kind tour guide, but couldn’t recall the guide’s name. The resolution to the problem of another client, who was cheated out of his home by a gold-digger, might strike some as unduly fortuitous, but it makes sense within the framework of these books, which are more about humanity than logic. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Mma Precious Ramotswe's 11th full cupboard of cases takes her from her office in Gaborone into a safari camp to track down the elusive heir to an unexpected legacy. On her deathbed, Estelle Grant, late of St. Paul, Minn., amended her will to leave $3,000 to the guide who'd been kind to her on a safari to the Okavango Delta, but she couldn't remember the name of the guide or the camp. Can the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, 2009, etc.) locate the beneficiary and inform him of his good fortune? Only if Mma Ramotswe can find the time to spare from the rest of her caseload. Her old friend, senior midwife Constance Mateleke, is convinced that her inattentive husband is carrying on an affair and wants the agency to find evidence she can use in her divorce proceedings. Government biologist Robert Monageng Kereleng, whose family business has already been plundered by an employee who fled to South Africa, wants Mma Ramotswe to help him recover the house he'd unwisely deeded to an avaricious girlfriend who has no intention of sharing it with him. And Mma Grace Makutsi, the agency's secretary and assistant detective, has problems of her own: Not only has her fiance, furniture salesman Phuti Radiphuti, been hospitalized with a serious injury, but his territorial aunt won't let Mma Makutsi near him. All these problems are solved with Mma Ramotswe's customary grace and wisdom, though it would take a sharp reader to see which of them will prove the most intransigent.
From the Publisher
Priase for The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series: 

“Wise and lovely.”
USA Today
“Mma Ramotswe’s observations not only inevitably expose her suspects, but also reveal much about humanity as a whole . . . [McCall Smith] is a master . . . There’s beauty and revelation  of one kind or another woven expertly into every line.”
The Christian Science Monitor
“These novels . . . lift the spirits. They make the reader feel good—about life, the world, the basic decency of people . . . They are wise.”
Winston-Salem Journal
“McCall Smith is a vivid observer and an elegant writer, honoring Botswanan customs and culture . . . Like the best traditions, this series is one we hope will endure.”
The Plain Dealer
“Alexander McCall Smith has been delighting audiences for years with his charming, gentle novels.”
The Grand Rapids Press
“As pleasing as a cup of red bush tea.”
Entertainment Weekly

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Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series , #11
Sold by:
Random House
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File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Double Comfort Safari Club

The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel
By Alexander Mccall Smith


Copyright © 2010 Alexander Mccall Smith
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780375424502

Chapter One

No car, thought Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, that great mechanic, and good man. No car . . .

He paused. It was necessary, he felt, to order the mind when one was about to think something profound. And Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni was at that moment on the verge of an exceptionally important thought, even though its final shape had yet to reveal itself. How much easier it was for Mma Ramotswe—she put things so well, so succinctly, so profoundly, and appeared to do this with such little effort. It was very different if one was a mechanic, and therefore not used to telling people—in the nicest possible way, of course—how to run their lives. Then one had to think quite hard to find just the right words that would make people sit up and say, “But that is very true, Rra!” Or, especially if you were Mma Ramotswe, “But surely that is well known!”

He had very few criticisms to make of Precious Ramotswe, his wife and founder of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, but if one were to make a list of her faults—which would be a minuscule document, barely visible, indeed, to the naked eye—one would perhaps have to include a tendency (only a slight tendency, of course) to claim that things that she happened to believe were well known. This phrase gave these beliefs a sort of unassailable authority, the status that went with facts that all right-thinking people would readily acknowledge—such as the fact that the sun rose in the east, over the undulating canopy of acacia that stretched along Botswana’s border, over the waters of the great Limpopo River itself that now, at the height of the rainy season, flowed deep and fast towards the ocean half a continent away. Or the fact that Seretse Khama had been the first President of Botswana; or even the truism that Botswana was one of the finest and most peaceful countries in the world. All of these facts were indeed both incontestable and well known; whereas Mma Ramotswe’s pronouncements, to which she attributed the special status of being well known, were often, rather, statements of opinion. There was a difference, thought Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, but it was not one he was planning to point out; there were some things, after all, that it was not helpful for a husband to say to his wife and that, he thought, was probably one of them.

Now, his thoughts having been properly marshalled, the right words came to him in a neat, economical expression: No car is entirely perfect. That was what he wanted to say, and these words were all that was needed to say it. So he said it once more. No car is entirely perfect.

In his experience, which was considerable—as the proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors and attending physician, therefore, to a whole fleet of middle-ranking cars—every vehicle had its bad points, its foibles, its rattles, its complaints; and this, he thought, was the language of machinery, those idiosyncratic engine sounds by which a car would strive to communicate with those with ears to listen, usually mechanics. Every car had its good points too: a comfortable driving seat, perhaps, moulded over the years to the shape of the car’s owner, or an engine that started the first time without hesitation or complaint, even on the coldest winter morning, when the air above Botswana was dry and crisp and sharp in the lungs. Each car, then, was an individual, and if only he could get his apprentices to grasp that fact, their work might be a little bit more reliable and less prone to require redoing by him. Push, shove, twist: these were no mantras for a good mechanic. Listen, coax, soothe: that should be the motto inscribed above the entrance to every garage; that, or the words which he had once seen printed on the advertisement for a garage in Francistown: Your car is ours.

That slogan, persuasive though it might have sounded, had given him pause. It was a little ambiguous, he decided: on the one hand, it might be taken to suggest that the garage was in the business of taking people’s cars away from them—an unfortunate choice of words if read that way. On the other, it could mean that the garage staff treated clients’ cars with the same care that they treated their own. That, he thought, is what they meant, and it would have been preferable if they had said it. It is always better to say what you mean—it was his wife, Mma Ramotswe, who said that, and he had always assumed that she meant it.

No, he mused: there is no such thing as a perfect car, and if every car had its good and bad points, it was the same with people. Just as every person had his or her little ways—habits that niggled or irritated others, annoying mannerisms, vices and failings, moments of selfishness—so too did they have their good points: a winning smile, an infectious sense of humour, the ability to cook a favourite dish just the way you wanted it.

That was the way the world was; it was composed of a few almost perfect people (ourselves); then there were a good many people who generally did their best but were not all that perfect (our friends and colleagues); and finally, there were a few rather nasty ones (our enemies and opponents). Most people fell into that middle group—those who did their best—and the last group was, thankfully, very small and not much in evidence in places like Botswana, where he was fortunate enough to live.

These reflections came to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni while he was driving his tow-truck down the Lobatse Road. He was on what Mma Ramotswe described as one of his errands of mercy. In this case he was setting out to rescue the car of one Mma Constance Mateleke, a senior and highly regarded midwife and, as it happened, a long-standing friend of Mma Ramotswe. She had called him from the roadside. “Quite dead,” said Mma Mateleke through the faint, crackling line of her mobile phone. “Stopped. Plenty of petrol. Just stopped like that, Mr. Matekoni. Dead.”

Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni smiled to himself. “No car dies for ever,” he consoled her. “When a car seems to die, it is sometimes just sleeping. Like Lazarus, you know.” He was not quite sure of the analogy. As a boy he had heard the story of Lazarus at Sunday School in Molepolole, but his recollection was now hazy. It was many years ago, and the stories of that time, the real, the made-up, the long-winded tales of the old people—all of these had a tendency to get mixed up and become one. There were seven lean cows in somebody’s dream, or was it five lean cows and seven fat ones?

“So you are calling yourself Jesus Christ now, are you, Mr. Matekoni? No more Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, is it? Jesus Christ Motors now?” retorted Mma Mateleke. “You say that you can raise cars from the dead. Is that what you’re saying?”

Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni chuckled. “Certainly not. No, I am just a mechanic, but I know how to wake cars up. That is not a special thing. Any mechanic can wake a car.” Not apprentices, though, he thought.

“We’ll see,” she said. “I have great faith in you, Mr. Matekoni, but this car seems very sick now. And time is running away. Perhaps we should stop talking on the phone and you should be getting into your truck to come and help me.”

So it was that he came to be travelling down the Lobatse Road, on a pleasantly fresh morning, allowing his thoughts to wander on the broad subject of perfection and flaws. On either side of the road the country rolled out in a grey-green carpet of thorn bush, stretching off into the distance, to where the rocky outcrops of the hills marked the end of the land and the beginning of the sky. The rains had brought thick new grass sprouting up between the trees; this was good, as the cattle would soon become fat on the abundant sweet forage it provided. And it was good for Botswana too, as fat cattle meant fat people—not too fat, of course, but well-fed and prosperous-looking; people who were happy to be who they were and where they were.

Yes, thought Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, even if no country was absolutely perfect, Botswana, surely, came as close as one could get. He closed his eyes in contentment, and then quickly remembered that he was driving, and opened them again. A car behind him—not a car that he recognised—had driven to within a few feet of the rear of his tow-truck, and was aggressively looking for an opportunity to pass. The problem, though, was that the Lobatse Road was busy with traffic coming the other way, and there was a vehicle in front of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni that was in no hurry to get anywhere; it was a driver like Mma Potokwane, he imagined, who ambled along and frequently knocked the gear-stick out of gear as she waved her hand to emphasise some point she was making to a passenger. Yet Mma Potokwane, and this slow driver ahead of him, he reminded himself, had a right to take things gently if they wished. Lobatse would not go away, and whether one reached it at eleven in the morning or half past eleven would surely matter very little.

He looked in his rear-view mirror. He could not make out the face of the driver, who was sitting well back in his seat, and he could not therefore engage in eye contact with him. He should calm down, thought Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, rather than . . . His line of thought was interrupted by the sudden swerving of the other vehicle as it pulled over sharply to the left. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, well versed as he was in the ways of every sort of driver, gripped his steering wheel hard and muttered under his breath. What was being attempted was that most dangerous of manoeuvres—overtaking on the wrong side.

He steered a steady course, carefully applying his brakes so as to allow the other driver ample opportunity to effect his passing as quickly as possible. Not that he deserved the consideration, of course, but Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni knew that when another driver did something dangerous it was best to allow him to finish what he was doing and get out of the way.

In a cloud of dust and gravel chips thrown up off the unpaved verge of the road, the impatient car shot past, before swerving again to get back onto the tarmac. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni felt the urge to lean on his horn and flash his lights in anger, but he did neither of these things. The other driver knew that what he had done was wrong; there was no need to engage in an abusive exchange which would lead nowhere, and would certainly not change that driver’s ways. “You do not change people by shouting at them,” Mma Ramotswe had once observed. And she was right: sounding one’s horn, shouting—these were much the same things, and achieved equally little.

And then an extraordinary thing happened. The impatient driver, his illegal manoeuvre over, and now clear of the tow-truck, looked in his mirror and gave a scrupulously polite thank-you wave to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. And Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, taken by surprise, responded with an equally polite wave of acknowledgement, as one would reply to any roadside courtesy or show of good driving manners. That was the curious thing about Botswana; even when people were rude—and some degree of human rudeness was inevitable—they were rude in a fairly polite way.


Excerpted from The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander Mccall Smith Copyright © 2010 by Alexander Mccall Smith. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Double Comfort Safari Club (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #11) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 178 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Gaborone, Botswana a delivery truck backs into salesman Phuti Radiphuti, crushing his leg against a wall. He is rushed to the hospital. When his fiancée Grace Makutsi tries to see him, his aunt refuses to grant her entrance; shaking up the timid young woman. At the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency where Grace is the office assistant, owner investigator Precious Ramotswe works on a case for a late American. Twin City resident Estelle Grant left $3,000 to the kind guide who took her on a safari to the Okavango Delta. However, as she was dying Estelle could not recall his name or that of his camp. The office's other cases involves biologist Robert Monageng Kereleng seduced out of his home by a femme fatale con artist and midwife Constance Mateleke wanting proof of her husband's alleged affair. As always with this warm series, the mysteries take a back seat to the human drama as the wonderful heroine works her caseload using wit and acumen while making Tea Time for the Traditionally Built. With a charming look at Botswana, fans of the saga will enjoy the latest cozy. Harriet Klausner
1DANA3 More than 1 year ago
Lesson learned:"Do not complain about your life. Do not blame others for things that you have brought upon yourself. Be content with who you are and where you are, and do whatever you can to bring to others such contentment and joy and understanding that you have managed to find yourself." What can I say? Precious Ramotswe is on the case of a mystery guide who has been left a large legacy by a grateful American tourist who remembers their kindness. The only trouble is that now the late tourist could not remember the name or the name of the company they worked for. I enjoyed the details about Botswana and life there. Unlike what we hear on the news, from a Botswana/African perspective and people everywhere, the positive vantage point on life is so encouraging to read. This and all of Smith's books are a joy to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every time you think McCall-Smith must be running out of new situations for Mma Romotswa, he comes up with a fresh batch of new situations. I am a great fan of the books, and I love the HBO series (when WILL they do a second season?)- but listening to The Double Comfort Safari Club, read slowly and in beautiful voice, it reminded me of how much of the philosophy and internal thought process is missing from the television adaptation. There is a place for both. You will not be disappointed in this newest book. It may not be an action-thriller, but it does leave you on the edge of your seat as you await the fate of the characters that you have come to care about.
1louise1 More than 1 year ago
I love female detectives! This is an enchanting, exciting sleuth adventure that is done in four stories. I love the little lessons in life here and there in conversation." Don't blame others for things that you do!" Be who you are and stop complaining!" The caseloads take a backseat to female drama. This lovely, warm, endearing, charming novel is filled with colorful detail about life in Botswana. LOVELY! ENGAGING! I thoroughly enjoyed it and the whole series! Other favorites of mine are: PERFECT, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, RAINWATER and TEA TIME FOR TRADITIONALLY BUILT.
Fedmom More than 1 year ago
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency story continues to delight! Smith brings Botswana and his love for it to the reader with gentle compassion and I always look forward to the new adventures and wisdom from the maturing characters. Thanks!
ESSAnglophile More than 1 year ago
Alexander McCall Smith has provided his readers with another book in his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. As usual, the plot is secondary to the characters and setting, and the readers learn more about Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi, their lives, their friends and families, and Botswanan values. Precious takes on two cases, one to provide a gift to a kind safari guide from a grateful former client and the other about marital infidelity. Grace's fiance Phuti is gravely injured and, with Mma Ramotswe's invaluable help, she has to deal with his over-protective and over-possessive aunt. As usual, goodness and kindness prevail, and reading the book is an uplifting and happy pleasure.
HamburgerHelper More than 1 year ago
The "Double Comfort" in the book title couldn't be more appropriate. I always look forward to the next "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" books with great anticipation - and they never disappoint. It is like meeting up with old and beloved friends over a cup of tea (or coffee), sitting in front of a fireplace and talking of things both weighty and mundane, and just reveling in their company - and hoping in will go on forever. I look forward to the next visit of Precious, Mma Makutsi, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni and the wonderful citizens of Botswana. I'll put the teakettle on and open my door.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love everything I've read by this author, but The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency books are the best. They are so real. I spent a month in Gabs, once, and picture where he describes. He has the culture down pat. These books are anthropological as well as entertaing.
oldsewnsew More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, having already finished reading the first 6 books. I am looking forward to the release of this new addition. However, as much as I would like to purchase the ebook for my Nook, I cannot justify why the eBook is more expensive than the hardcover version! Sorry, but I'm going to pass on the purchase and wait until my public library gets in their ebook edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Smith has written a series of gentle bestsellers based in Botswana, where life is enjoyed most when sitting on the porch sipping red bush tea and watching people from the village stroll past. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency in the books is run by Mma Ramotswe, a sensible woman of traditional size (translation - big woman), so no slinky, svelte types will be found between the pages, unless they happen to be up to no good. Makeup is more or less dismissed as unnecessary (or mostly for those women who are up to no good). Smith writes from his experience of living in Botswana and his descriptions of the countryside make the reader feel that looking for the hippos around the next bend of the river is the natural order of things, where going to the next town is a really big deal and making a 97 on a final exam is cause for endless celebrity. One of the cases in "The Double Comfort Safari Club" (released in April, 2010) involved an inheritance to be delivered to the correct person. Unfortunately, the resolution seemed to be an odd stretch and made me question whether I could ever really trust Mma Ramotswe's judgment. Perhaps it's a cultural disconnect, but I kept re-reading that section of the book to see if I had somehow misunderstood the issues surrounding the choices. With that exception, the book is pleasant, with ordinary office politics being handled by Mma Ramotswe as she works hard to point out the best features of her employees and acquaintances. Another case, involving a trusted employee whose fiancé has a tragic accident and afterward becomes virtually imprisoned by an aunt, is resolved rather deliciously, so my faith in Mme R. (and Smith) was redeemed. No shoot-outs, no car chases, just a gentle summer read about a woman with common sense and a knack of understanding the quirky bits of human nature.
Tarzanman More than 1 year ago
I've never met an Alexander McCall Smith book I didn't like...and this one is no exception. The characters and plot situations are very personal...and gave me much pause for reflection.
jm56 More than 1 year ago
Another wonderful book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. Precious, Grace, and the others make me think about a gentler way of life. The latest book is touching and entertaining. I may never get to visit Botswana, but these books make me feel like I've been there.
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Dommo More than 1 year ago
This is the 2nd book in the series that I've read and I just love Mr. Smith's writing. It's beautiful, lyrical, expressive and full of wisdom that one can take to heart (and practice) whether one lives in Africa or the US. His characters, Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi continue to be delightful, charming and amusing. And I marvel at the honesty with which he imbues in their voices and thoughts. I adore this series!
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Famfatale More than 1 year ago
A wonderful series. My favorites of the Alexander McCall Smith series. I look forward to each new release.
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