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The Double Comfort Safari Club (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series) Paperback – March 8, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Besides the more obvious things like the great characters in the series - after a while they seem like you actually know them as you would real people - what I really liked about the series is the details about Botswana and life there. And so much of it is positive, unlike so much of what you hear about Africa these days. The books also teach many lessons useful to people everywhere, but from a Botswana/African perspective that can really shine a light where it needs to shine so to speak.
The first book was especially good in portraying the Botswana background and viewpoint - I assume accuracy here as the author lived there a long time. The author seemed to move away from this as the series progressed - maybe he thought readers had enough or knew all of it already and did not want to hear about it so much. I disagree. It's what got me hooked on the series.
Like many others, I was somewhat disappointed with the book right before this one - the 10th I think, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built. It just wasn't as good as the ones before it. I was worried that the series had run out of steam.
I am happy to see that this new installment gets back to the series roots in many respects showing us some more about the real Botswana, especially something we have not yet seen in the series - the delta region. The overall plot seems very vigorous too - an improvement over #10 I think. I won't go into that too much as readers usually like a surprise.
I hope that series fans will come back and read this latest book, meet favorite characters again, be entertained, and learn something about Botswana and life in general as well.
So eleven cheers for Alexander McCall Smith not just on this novel as a stand-alone work - which is great in itself - but in this unique literary achievement of a series of eleven novels all of which are as good as each other. Not even JRR Tolkein managed it (with Lord of the Rings at just three volumes), and Dickens novels were all about separate characters. No, this is a truly remarkable feat...
AND even more so if one considers that our favorite novelist is writing other series as well - including the two new novels set in London (out soon in the USA), which are equally good and, sadly it seems, not as well known or appreciated by McCall Smith aficianados as perhaps they should be, since they are every bit as good, not to mention hilariously funny, as the better known African eleven volume series.
So read and enjoy this novel, and then dip into his other series as well, in Edinburgh (two series), London (one) and Germany (one series).
The structure is very similar to others in the series, with the familiar cast of characters appearing. There are essentially four interwoven storylines. Mma Makutsi's fiance Mr Phuti Radiphuti is in an accident and she clashes with his aunt over who should nurse him back to health. Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe has several cases on the go. She is asked to investigate whether a husband is being unfaithful, to assist another man who has been swindled out of his money and travels with Mma Makutsi to the Okavango Delta to track down a safari guide who has been left some money in a will. However these storylines often take a backseat to discussions about teapots, new boots and the merits of the new blue van.
The book opens with Mr J L B Matekoni musing about road rage and the futility of reacting to it and it ends with Mma Ramotswe musing about how to lead a good life. "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."
It's a lovely, warm and fuzzy novel that lives up in every way to the others in this gorgeous series.
The Double Comfort Safari Club is an opportunity to return to the company of the protagonist, Mma Precious Ramotswe, and her friends and fellow citizens of Botswana, but I would not recommend it as the place to start in the series. It might not convince a newcomer of the series' strengths, such as the full impact of the 21st century world on traditional Africa. The puzzles are not really puzzles so much as waiting to see just how the lady detectives wrap up their cases. The solutions are more comic guile than anything else.
So, read this if you like the series; read the other volumes first if you haven't fallen for the author's charms as yet.