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The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series) Hardcover – November 5, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency could be about to lose its #2 investigator in Smith's endearing 14th installment of the bestselling Botswana-set series (after 2012's The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection). One hardly needs the renowned deductive powers of agency head Mma Precious Ramotswe to notice the growing bulk beneath the increasingly voluminous garb of recently married second-in-command Mma Grace Makutsi. But the normally frighteningly efficient assistant stays mum as the pair try to establish whether the young nephew attempting to claim a dead man's estate is in fact an imposter. Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe allows herself to be snookered into figuring out who's mounting a smear campaign against the titular beauty establishment. The two story lines work as serviceably as Mma Ramotswe's doughty white van to propel the story forward, but the book's appeal lies less in deduction than irrepressible characters, intriguing local lore, and bone-deep love of Africa. Agent: Robin Straus, Robin Straus Agency. (Nov.)
*Starred Review* The titles of many of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels (this is the fourteenth) often have a wonderfully cheery tone. Think of The Full Cupboard of Life, for example, or Tea Time for the Traditionally Built. The latest title is brilliant in its hopefulness, implying, as it does, that a person may only be a mere tweak away from beauty. This hopeful attitude is exemplified by Mma Ramotswe, the owner and operator of Botswana’s only detective agency, who resolutely tackles the problems people bring to her in her small, out-of-the-way office under an acacia tree. The clients’ problems showcase the usual suspects of greed, envy, sloth—all the vices that cause trouble for others. This time, the owner of the nearest town’s new beauty salon receives a tiny thing, a feather from a ground hornbill bird. But this artifact is a traditional way of conveying hate. This is followed by a highly effective smear campaign. The other case Mma Ramotswe works on here concerns an heir to a great cattle farm who may actually be an imposter. Mma Ramotswe must track the truth alone because her assistant Mma Makutsi is absent (no plot spoiler here). As usual, these novels are only a bit about actual mysteries. They’re leisurely, wonderfully crafted descriptions of life in the agency and at home, the beauties of Botswana, and the joys, big and small, of life. This latest is, especially, a tribute to enduring friendship. --Connie Fletcher
Top customer reviews
I must add to this that the fantastic reading of Adjoa Andoh, has added a new dimension to the No 1 books - although I have yet to listen to her reading the Minor adjustment beauty salon. I do look forward to it.
Mr. J. L. B. Matakoni, husband of Mma Ramotswe decides to enroll in a course at the local university to learn how to become a modern husband, only to find himself held up as a model before the other students. Since he considers himself to be a thoroughly traditional man, this is excruciatingly embarrassing, so embarrassing that he decides not to return. Meanwhile, his apprentice Charlie falls in love with Mma Makutsi's baby boy and decides he is ready to marry and become a father! Charlie? The one who really, really needs a course to learn how to be a modern husband... !
Mma Ratmotswe deeply misses the presence and assistance of her friend Mma Makutsi. The office is just not the same without her. She resorts to visiting Mma Makutsi at home to confer with her about the two cases that are the theme of this entry in the series. One involves the inheritance of a farm... is the legatee really the nephew who inherits? And who has started an evil campaign of lies to force The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon to close its doors? What they discover on one case is shocking indeed and the other case causes them to remember to never jump to conclusions.
This book had me laughing out loud in places and as usual is filled with those snippets of wisdom and common sense that we all highlight as we read. Highly recommended.
Take Alexander McCall Smith’s latest contribution, his 14th, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon. True to form, Mma (Ms.) Precious Ramotswe, founder and proprietor of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency in Gaborone, Botswana, exercises her special brand of intuition, deductive powers, and an uncanny ability to read people as she takes on two challenging cases. In one, a suspicious lady lawyer has asked her to determine whether the principal beneficiary of a will she has written is actually who he claims to be. In the other case, the proprietor of a newly expanded beauty salon is under attack from a vicious whispering campaign that is scaring clients away, and she asks Mma Ramotswe to identify the culprit.
Despite the slow pace of the action in The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, McCall Smith manages to pack a lot of activity into this one short novel, musing about friendship and about social change all the while he conveys the measured rhythm of life in a very special African country. Botswana is widely respected for its political stability, its relatively advanced educational and healthcare services, its status as the least corrupt country in Africa, and, with the exception of economic reversals in 2007-9, consistently one of the very highest rates of economic development in the world ever since gaining its independence in 1966.
For any fan of McCall Smith’s work, it’s likely to be a pleasant relief (as it was for me) to encounter all the delightful continuing characters in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency Series: Mma Ramotswe’s husband, always referred to in full as Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, the proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors and “the finest mechanic in all Botswana”; the exasperating “associate detective,” Mma Grace Makutsi, who is pregnant as the story commences; Mma Potokwane, the “traditionally built” matron of the orphan farm outside Gaborone; Phuti Radiphuti, owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop and sheepish husband of Mma Makutsi; and even the nefarious Violet Sephotho, bane of Mma Makutsi’s life and predator upon the men of all Botswana. Read a few of these lovely little books, and these characters will populate your imagination for years to come.
Previously, I’ve reviewed three other novels in the series: The Double Comfort Safari Club, The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection, and The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party. They’re all a delight to read.