Friday, November 22, 2013

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #14), by Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon, ISBN 9780307378415, November 2013

Precious Ramotswe is facing a new challenge. Grace Makutsi has gone out on maternity leave after the birth of her and Phuti Radiphuti's son--and the office is suddenly quiet. Too quiet. It's been a long time since Mma Ramotswe worked on a case without bouncing ideas off Mma Makutsi, and she finds it's not just Grace's awesome office skills she misses. But life and business must go on, and she has not one but two cases to work on.

Mma Soleti, owner of the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, is the target of a nasty whispering campaign that's driving away her customers. And Mma Sheba, a lawyer Mma Ramotswe met a few years ago at a networking lunch for women professionals, wants to know if the young man who has come forward as the heir to an estate she's handling is really who he says he is.

Meanwhile, Grace is coping with Phuti's aunt, who has moved in with them in an attempt to ensure that her new great-nephew is raised "traditionally," while Grace and Phuti prefer to be more modern parents. And Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, devoted husband of Mma Ramotswe, is worried that she might want him to be more modern, and enrolls in a course for Modern Husbands.

As in all the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency stories, the actual mysteries to be solved are secondary. This is a meditation on character, love, and the tension between modern and traditional ways and attitudes. What's gained in adopting the new ways, and what's lost? Can the people of  Botswana, most especially Precious Ramotswe and her family and friends, preserve what's good in each?

This is a warm, satisfying visit with old friends. Maybe not the best place to begin reading the series, but a welcome addition for Mma Ramotswe's fans.

Recommended.

I bought this book.