From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's foremost solver of problems, is used to handling mostly straightforward domestic cases, which makes a series of anonymous letters threatening her and her prickly assistant, Grace Makutsi, all the more disturbing in Smith's triumphant ninth No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novel (after The Good Husband of Zebra Drive). The search for whoever penned the letters coincides with a new commission: Manka Sebina, whose birth parents gave her up as a child, hires the agency to track down any living relatives. Both problems afford Mma Ramotswe ample opportunity to display her winning blend of insight into others' motivations and an endearingly naïve belief in the best in human nature. Significant, if incremental, developments in the lives of the community Smith has lovingly created over the course of the series will intrigue old fans. Immediately accessible to newcomers, this entry will prompt them to seek out the earlier books. (Apr.)
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*Starred Review* The ninth installment in McCall Smith’s beloved No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series finds Botswanan Precious Ramotswe musing upon more mysteries of life. There’s the woman desperately searching for her family, with not a clue where to start. She claims that her late mother is not her birth mother, but Mma Ramotswe isn’t so sure. Associate detective Grace Makutsi (whom readers will remember for her large spectacles and stellar 97 percent score on the Botswana Secretarial College exam) is restless over damage to a new bed purchased by her fiancé, Phuti Radiphuti. (She and the well-mannered Mr. Radiphuti had been unable to resist that heart-shaped velvet headboard.) Mma Ramotswe also receives some threatening letters, which seem to have come from a most unlikely source. Finally, Mma Ramotswe’s husband, talented car mechanic and model citizen Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, meets a doctor who just may have a cure for adopted daughter Motholeli’s spinal condition. (Other experts have told the young girl she’d be wheelchair-bound for life.) While hope springs eternal, Mma Ramotswe doesn’t share the unabashed optimism of her spouse. Scotsman McCall Smith, who also pens the Isabel Dalhousie, 44 Scotland Street, and Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, conveys his deep admiration for Botswana (where he once lived and helped establish a school of law at the university) on every page of this warm, wise, whimsical novel. --Allison Block
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